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Field Visit in Masanga, Tanzania

April 17th, 2023

Terre des Hommes Netherlands regional team members conducted several activities including the peer educators dialogue sessions, a kickoff meeting, and a partnership visit during a field visit in Masanga, Tanzania.

Tanzania Field Visit

Field Visit Activities

In partnership with Association for Termination of FGM (ATFGM), the regional team conducting several activities from 28th March  to 6th April 2023. This included the;

  • Kickoff meeting for the GIVE TZ 2 project that took place from 28th to 29th March 2023
  • peer educators dialogue sessions on CWDs in school based-child rights clubs  that took place on 30th March 2023
  • partnership visit to Lake Victoria Disability Centre and Jipe Moyo that took place on 1st April 2023
  • Cross border forum on trafficking, sexual abuse and exploitation that took place from 3rd  to 4th April 2023

Kick off meeting

During the kickoff meeting, attended by various stakeholders, the team reviewed the GIVE TZ 1 learning outcomes, lessons learnt, the challenges observed and the recommendations.The following key project achievements were highlighted during the meeting;

  • 40 child rights clubs were created in 2022 in primary (32) and secondary (8) schools with the participation of 1,000 children, 23 (9 boys and 14 girls) out of them are children with disabilities
  • Children with disabilities in Tarime lobbied for inclusion of children with disabilities in the National Census data collection, carried out in August and September 2022 
  • Children with disabilities provided inputs in the formulation of inclusive bylaws in 4 wards
  • The 100 children with disabilities who were trained on advocacy strategies reported cases of child abuse to respective authorities and followed the referral procedures. 
  • The 100 children with disabilities trained as peer educators in the first half of the year are now agents of change among their peers

Side event

A side event was held on 28th March 2023 in Masanga where assistive devices were given to 18 children with disabilities. It was a joyous occasion as the children received the assistive devices that included wheelchairs, tricycles and crutches to aid their mobility. 

“I am so happy to finally receive this tricycle, it is going to assist my movement and everyday life”, said one of the children as he received his tricycle. 

The children were excited to receive the new assistive devices that will go a long way in assisting their mobility in their everyday lives. Their parents could also not hide their joy as they could now see their children move around with ease.

Peer educators dialogue sessions

On 30th March 2023, the team visited a primary school for dialogue, school based child rights clubs sessions and awareness on disabilities. During the dialogue session, Emmanuel Mpechi, the child rights coordinator, engaged the children on the importance of child participation on key aspects that affect them and their lives. He guided them on the importance of inclusion of children with disabilities and survivors of sexual exploitation in school-based child rights clubs to support awareness and amplify their voices, so as to access quality services and to be protected from harmful practices such as female genital mutilation and forced child marriage. 

During the session, the children presented poems and a short drama on the importance of sensitising families with children with disabilities and empowering them, and to teach their communities on preventing trafficking of children with disabilities. Thereafter, they had a small football match where children with disabilities also participated. The aim of the game was to show that even children with disabilities can participate in sports activities.

The children were empowered to be champions of children with disabilities, advocates for safe spaces for CWDs, to raise awareness on caring for children with disabilities, and help them access essential services. 

Cross border forum on trafficking, sexual abuse and exploitation

On Monday 3rd April 2023, the team attended the Cross Border Forum on Trafficking, Sexual Abuse and Exploitation held at Isibania town, Migori County. The main aim of the cross border forum was to review the efforts made to mitigate and stop FGM and child exploitation in the border of Kenya and Tanzania. 

The forum was attended by stakeholders and representatives from different CSOs including Plan International, Tunaweza Empowerment and Association for Termination of FGM (ATFGM),  media team, government representatives as well as law enforcement officers  from both countries. The meeting was opened and officiated by the assistant county commissioner for Kuria West, Ms. Joyfilla Wambua. 

The participants shared the progress made in fighting against FGM in the communities living in the border towns and villages in Kenya and Tanzania. As noted, there has been significant improvement in the fight against FGM and exploitation of children in the border towns. It was established that over 900 children have been rescued from FGM and other forms of child exploitation in the Kuria West and Sirari border towns in Kenya and more than 600 by CSOs in Tanzania. There are ten safehouses in Kuria West sub county and only one in Tarime  district, where rescued children are able to receive care and support. As a means to fight against FGM and child exploitation, upon reintegrating children back into their homes, parents and guardians are expected to sign commitments to ensure that the children’s safety is protected at home. However, in most cases, despite the commitment by parents to defend their daughters, they end up genitally cutting them after the reintegration. Last year, 10 girls in Kenya and more than 50 girls in Tanzania were forcefully cut after the reintegration. Getting accurate information from community members on cases of FGM and child exploitation was noted as a challenge, resulting in slowed interventions.

Abeid Kitundu, Assistant Inspector of Police, Tarime District, stated that there is currently a database in place to map out cases of FGM and child exploitation. Patrick Njoroge, Sub County Police commander, noted that they have collaborated with different CSOs and the legal department in arresting and prosecuting perpetrators of FGM and child exploitation.

Bi-annual coordination meetings

The team also took part in the Bi-annual coordination meeting in Tarime, with Local Government Authorities and committees of people with disabilities (PWDs), participants from 20 wards (ward executive officers and representatives of local disability committees), the district legal officer, and the district social welfare officer. The meeting served as a feedback session on the challenges, lessons learnt and recommendations after the formation of bylaws from 4 wards in Tarime in 2022 under the GIVE TZ 1 project. 

Some of the lessons learnt as discussed by the participants were;

  1. There is generally low awareness of disability in the community and there is a lot of discrimination against PWDs and CWDs in the community
  2. Through the bylaws, they could reduce not only the discrimination, but also improve the inclusion of children with disabilities in delivering their mandate. 

Some of the challenges sighted included: 

  1. People and children with disabilities (CWDs) have not accepted their realities of disability and so they harbour low self esteem. 
  2. CWDs and PWDs are discriminated against and termed as a curse by their own relatives and the communities at large. 
  3. The infrastructure is not friendly to PWDs and children with disabilities within the family and the community hence the PWDs and CWDs are not able to access basic services like schools, medical care, religious institutions and government offices. The families/ caretakers have limited awareness on how to care for the CWDs and this calls for continued awareness.
  4. The abuse and exploitation of CWDs is hardly reported, and when these cases are reported, the victims either do not get justice or the justice is delayed. 

The recommendations stated included:

  • Continuous counselling and psychosocial support.
  • Continuous awareness among the communities was recommended.
  • Increased lobby efforts to the government for improved infrastructure

Overall the field visit was a success. Terre des Hommes Netherlands remains committed to amplifying the voices of children with disabilities to access inclusive child protection services in Tanzania. Through the implemention the Give a Voice to Exploited Children with disabilities in Tanzania (GIVE TZ) project, we continue to fight against FGM and child exploitation.

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