The capacity of families and communities to care for and protect their most vulnerable members is often undermined in complex humanitarian situations. These risks are compounded where formal social welfare systems lack the reach to deliver services in areas of greatest need.
In order to sustain children’s protection from violence, exploitation and abuse, humanitarian actors have promoted the establishment of Community-Based Child Protection Committees and Networks (CBCPNs).
A CBCPN normally serves as a forum where community members meet, discuss child protection problems and research solutions. It is thus an informal community structure, representing all sectors in the community who have a role to play in protecting children – including children themselves. While bringing concrete solutions to the situation of individual children and young people, they also serve as platforms for holding duty-bearers accountable for promoting child rights and protecting children from violence.
The Child Protection Subsector in Sudan has mapped more than one-hundred Networks.
These have been established in response to specific humanitarian situations, mainly in the Darfur region, South Kordofan, Blue Nile and Abyei, but also in Khartoum and elsewhere. Where Subsector partners’ access to conflict affected areas has been an increasing challenge, CCPC/Ns have become a vital means of assuring the delivery of services; of conducting awareness-raising sessions amongst community members; and of contributing to child protection rapid assessments and protection monitoring.
Consequently, Subsector partners have invested considerable resources in supporting these networks through training and in-kind support. However, the level of assistance has been inconsistent, and has not been guided by a shared understanding of the role, functions and limitations of CBCPNs in emergencies. The Subsector has mandated a working group comprised of Plan International, Save the Children Sweden, Terre des Hommes, UNICEF, War Child Holland, and World Vision International to produce a common Child Protection Handbook for Community Based CP Networks. The handbook is designed to assist programme and field staff in the establishment, capacity building and support of CBCNs with their work protecting children.
Funding for this Handbook was provided by donors to the Common Humanitarian Fund in Sudan, through UNICEF.