Creating space for child participation in local governance in Tanzania: Save the Children and Children's Councils

Creating space for child participation in local governance in Tanzania: Save the Children and Children's Councils

Children’s right to be heard is internationally recognised by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child. Tanzania has ratified both of these international instruments, and the Tanzania Law of the Child Act 2009 recognises the right of children to participate in all decisions which affect them in the family, at school, and in their communities. Children, therefore, possess the right to participate in how their communities are governed by local government authorities. However, realising children’s right to participate is challenging given deep-seated social views that children have limited status and capacity.

This brief summarises the principal findings of a study which examined children’s councils supported by Save the Children as one avenue to promote children’s participation in local governance in Tanzania. The research found that the councils were genuine, child-led organisations that have contributed to improving local service delivery to children. However, councils are operational in a limited number of districts, and, where councils are in place, local authorities are yet to consistently involve them in their decision-making processes.

Key points:

  • children have the right to participate in how their communities are governed by local government authorities
  • children’s councils have made children’s problems more visible in their local areas. As a consequence, local governments have been made more aware of the challenges faced by children and their responsibility for improving child-related services
  • in terms of engagement with local authorities, • the councils tend to be largely engaged for special events, e.g., the Day of the African Child, thus stalling further participation
  • factors inhibiting the effective involvement of • councils in local government include the lack of accountability mechanisms and guidance on the functions of guardians, limited funds and limited political will
  • government needs to fast-track its commitment to child participation at the local level
  • this means extending the councils throughout the country and providing clear guidance on the roles of the councils, the involvement of adults, and the responsibility of the government and civil society in supporting councils

 

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