In the aftermath of deadly flooding, this team in Kenya used WhatsApp and other innovations to protect children from abuse.
When heavy rains hammered Kenya from late February to early June 2018, causing massive flooding after an intense period of drought, the team at Childline Kenya, a Nairobi-based nonprofit that protects children from abuse, had to act quickly. The flooding killed more than 100 people, and the Childline Kenya team knew that children, especially those already living in poverty, would be particularly vulnerable in the aftermath of a disaster.
During the floods, reports of child abuse spiked.
With support from Ford Motor Company, Facebook, and GlobalGiving, Childline Kenya through its allied, local partners was able to provide counseling services, legal support, and medication to some of the most vulnerable children in Kenya. Their cases came to light through a 24/7 child helpline managed by Childline Kenya in partnership with the government of Kenya since 2006.
The Childline Kenya team also hosted meetings with key stakeholders in the most flood-affected counties to develop concrete response strategies for children who were vulnerable to abuse. Strategies included a radio campaign to create awareness of safe spaces in the communities for children, as well as outlets for reporting child abuse. The area chiefs in affected counties also agreed to hold barazas (open-air meetings) within their communities to continually build their capacity to keep children safe throughout the peak of the disaster. Additionally, child protection officials in the counties were proactively identified to help improve responses to child abuse reports.
Innovations in child protection in Kenya continue, even as the immediate threat of the flooding subsides. Community members in affected counties formed WhatsApp groups to keep a strong line of communication open between households, government representatives, key child protection service providers in the county, and the Childline Kenya team. In addition to the hotline, child abuse cases can now be reported through the app, to ensure children receive the protection they need as quickly and efficiently as possible in times of disaster and every day.
The Disaster Recovery Network at GlobalGiving has advanced a model of community-led relief and recovery since 2004.
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