Swaziland has become a better and safer place for children compared to what it was five years ago.
This is according to the 2013 African Child Policy Forum (ACPF) report which was released last month. The report shows that there has been a massive improvement in the kingdom being safer for children as Swaziland jumped 36 places to be the ninth most child friendly country in Africa.
Swaziland was rated alongside South Africa, Tunisia, Egypt, Cape Verde, Rwanda, Lesotho and Algeria. This is a massive improvement from 2008 rankings by the same forum, where the country was placed 45th out of 52 countries in the ACPF’s Child Friendliness Index.
The country was found to have lacked in a number of interventions, which pushed it down the rank. In particular, it was found to have lagged behind in legal and policy intervention back in 2008. The Child Friendliness Index is based on 44 indicators which measure government’s commitment to the protection of their children, provision for their children’s basic needs and the participation of children in decisions that would affect them in turn.
“Swaziland’s major achievement since the last rating was due to the drop in infant mortality rate of more than a third, increased measles immunisation coverage, improved levels of deliveries attended by skilled health workers and better sanitation facilities and drinking water,” the reports states.
The ACPF also recognised the introduction of child-related laws and policies as major strides towards strengthening the country’s child protection system. Last year alone, Swaziland ratified and acceded to 13 international instruments which relate to children.
In the same year, the Children’s Protection and Welfare Act of 2012 was passed into law, which was largely perceived as a milestone for the nation.
United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Country Representative Rachel Odede congratulated the country for this achievement and stated that it was as a result of the Swazi government’s commitment and leadership, as well as the long standing partnership between parents, children, communities, civil society entities and international development partners.
“Government leadership is demonstrated at many levels, in particular the legislative processes which involve consultations with a number of key stakeholders,” she noted.