THE Tokwe-Mukorsi flooding disaster has attracted the attention of various stakeholders with the Zimbabwe National Council for the Welfare of Children (ZNCWC) expressing worries over state of the children at Chingwizi transit camp on Nuanetsi Ranch in Mwenezi.
ZNCWC, an umbrella body for the child rights sector has challenged the government and other stakeholders to be proactive about the children’s needs.
Dr Lamiel Phiri, a ZNCWC official, was speaking to NewsDay on the sidelines of a handover ceremony of donations for children in the transit camp that were sourced by teenagers in various schools in the capital last week.
“The government, as the custodians of the children, must be proactive and create platforms to engage the children so as to listen to their voices about their welfare as they stay in the camp,” said Phiri.
“Involvement of children on issues that affect them must be taken seriously especially those of children in Chingwizi transit camp.”
Phiri said as ZNCWC they were also worried about the children’s right to education with reports of many having dropped out of school.
“The welfare of children is our primary concern as ZNCWC and as it stands we are worried about Ordinary level and Advanced level candidates who might fail to write their November final examinations as parents are struggling to raise the registration fees,” said Phiri.
“The conditions under which the children in the transit camp urgently need assistance to enable them to access proper education which is the foundation of their future and other necessities like food, shelter and health facilities.”
Phiri said their assessment of the situation at the camp revealed an urgent need for child-focussed strategies to specifically address the short, medium and long-term child welfare issues.
“ZNCWC noted with concern the inappropriate physical, socio-economic environment and other issues currently prevailing at the camp which must be addressed urgently,” Phiri said.
Phiri also expressed concerns about the state of the schools which are made up of poles and a tent which he said exposes the pupils to bad weather and environment which is not conducive to learning for people coming from a flood tragedy.
In a recent report, titled Situational Report on the Welfare of Children at Chingwizi Camp, ZNCWC says the shortages of tents where only one tent was provided per household has resulted in children sleeping outside the tents to give their parents privacy.
Parents who spoke to NewsDay also expressed concern saying they are slowly losing hope in government for their children’s right to education.
“The government must take action and we thought the government by now would have done something for our children who are supposed to be sitting for their final exams, but their future is becoming more and more uncertain as little has been done on the educational side,” said Irene Nyamadzawo.
“Books are very limited, and so are teachers, pupils having no chairs to sit on using their laps as their desks.
“The government has expressed concern over the education system saying it is aware of the needs of the children.
“We were promised by government that soldiers would come and build school blocks and accommodation for teachers, but it has remained a promise,” said a woman on condition of anonymity.
Early childhood development is also not spared with over 500 infants reported to be learning in the heat with no food and toilets, as the makeshift toilets are designed for adults.
A number of pupils were affected following the displacement of more than 30 000 people from the Tokwe-Mukorsi flood basin. School-going children failed to attend lessons for more than two months before satellite schools were established at the camp.