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Review of Child Protection Systems in Four Countries in South Asia

Review of Child Protection Systems in Four Countries in South Asia Request for proposal

Reference: LRFP-2016-9126614
Beneficiary country(ies): Nepal
Published on: 27-Jul-2016
Deadline on: 08-Sep-2016 14:00 (GMT 5.45) Kathmandu



Summary: To improve child protection systems to better protect children, the UNICEF Regional Office for South Asia (ROSA) is reviewing child protection systems developments in the region. The review will inform efforts to strengthen systems in the area of child protection, including understanding the results of the mapping and assessment exercises with its subsequent actions, including both intended and unintended consequences. It will directly contribute to programming directions in each country, the approach to systems strengthening in other countries in the region (Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka) and global directions on how UNICEF engages in systems development.


UNICEF seeks expressions of interest from qualified firms to conduct a review of systems change since 2011/2012 in four countries (Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal and Pakistan), as described in these terms of reference.  The starting year reflects the initiation of a comprehensive child protection system mapping in the country, which this review will use as a baseline. The contract will be issued in October/November 2016 with an expectation that the review will be finalized within one year.



A child protection system is defined as certain structures, functions and capacities that have been assembled to prevent and respond to violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of children. It includes institutions and actors. Its components have different degrees of formalities. The outcome is the result of the interactions between and among the system components and actors. With defined boundaries, the child protection system interacts with other systems particularly those in the social field. The child protection system is not static rather it is dynamic, adaptive and learning.[1]

Mapping refers to a process of identifying the main country child protection risks, and reviewing the scope and capacity of the existing child protection system, including its accountability mechanisms and resources. This results in a holistic overview of the child protection system, rather than a more classic vertical approach that looks at parts of the system as explicitly pertains to a specific issue. As a dynamic system, assessment is part of the mapping exercise as judgements are made about, for example the boundaries of the system and its capacity to respond. The result of the assessment is the identification of priority actions that will improve the child protection system and ultimately lead to better results for children, be that a better result in a particular area (like a reduction in child marriage, or broader such as having prevention services in place). These actions should be few and be ‘lynchpins’ that can reverberate throughout the system to respond to the challenges that the mappings highlight. Potentially these priorities are then matched with the resources required as reflected, for example, in budget planning of government and other organisations. The use of the resulting mapping and assessment information can vary, with some countries actively following the findings and others, moving forward system strengthening initiatives may be based on the process of mapping, rather that the directions it delineated or responsive to other factors in the environment.

In Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal and Pakistan, UNICEF supported the government and partners to map and assess national child protection systems. The approach to the mapping varied from country to country, with Bhutan, Maldives, and Pakistan adapting the UNICEF global toolkit[2] for child protection system mapping and assessment, while Nepal developed its own approach. Implementation took several months, to more than a year, and involved concerned ministries and relevant stakeholders from government, civil society and development partners, as well as families and children. The extent of participation of the different stakeholders varied between countries. All countries had external consultant(s) or an institution[3] to facilitate the process. Documents from the mapping and assessments are available for use for this assignment by the selected firm.

In Bhutan, the mapping and assessment began just as the new five-year National Plan of Action for Child Protection was being developed. The final assessment report with a corresponding plan was endorsed by the Committee of Secretaries[4] and published in 2012. In the following year, child protection, and specifically child protection systems strengthening, appeared for the first time in the Government’s 11th Five-Year Plan (July 2013–June 2018). The assessment defined a number of priority actions, including the importance of acquiring more data on the violence children experience, as well as the requirement to have a stronger presence in the districts. There has been some progress with Women and Child Protection Desks (WCPDs) established in ten districts[5] to date, and a study on violence against children (VAC)[6] has begun[7]. One unintended consequence since the mapping is the realization of the breadth of child protection the intention to have only one focal point covering both women and children in the ministries and departments has changed to having a person specific to each target group.  

In the Maldives, the mapping and assessment was articulated as a further step in the evolution of the system. It began in 2011 by building consensus regarding the boundaries of the child protection system and what the system was expected to deliver. The initiation of the process coincided with the ongoing discussions on the development of a new child protection-related Act, hence built on the already-existing discussion and child protection focus. The geographic challenge, with having so many islands, was recognised as having an impact on the further system development and so consultations were specifically organised to include many of the islands. The assessment report was published by the Government in March 2013. It noted the importance of decoupling the political and technical roles in the system and recognized the importance of having “trained professionals with adequate remit, authority and experience”. A comprehensive capacity building needs assessment was therefore carried out to further explore this area.

Pakistan began a radical decentralization process in 2011, moving all responsibilities for child protection to the provincial level. The earlier government structure did not explicitly recognise child protection, rather responsibilities were divided between ministries such as education and health, two areas that were also struggling with the decentralisation. On the request of the provinces for support in developing their child protection structure and programmes, the mapping and assessment was conducted in each province[8], starting in November 2011 with final reports published in March 2013. While led by the Government, the ‘steering group’ composition differed in each province depending on the capacity and culture, with some restricted primarily to government and others, including many civil society actors. The reports had a wide range of recommendations, however one common recommendation in each province was the strengthening of social welfare departments/units, such that there is a focal group or body to support/direct the child protection response. It appears that each province now does have a focal point.

Nepal created some unique methods for the mapping and assessment. This includes understanding systems through the experiences of a child. One hundred individual cases were documented. This included the chain of events which exposed a particular child to the harmful situation, as well as the pathways through which the child passed as it was being resolved, including informal justice mechanisms, community-based mechanisms and/or NGOs which helped the child to access the formal justice system and services. The mapping also included focus groups with traditional healers, religious leaders and community household surveys. One direct outcome of the assessment was a new partnership to ensure placement and capacity building of Child Rights Officers and Child Welfare Officers in all districts. Other planned prioritized activities included the establishment of a separate unit/section for children within the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare[9], the establishment of a database to track cases of violence against girls and boys, and enabling a civil registration system to provide citizenship in a gender-neutral manner.

Globally the process of mapping and assessment is an important first step to a conscious systems approach to child protection. The mapping itself proportionately takes a much shorter length of time than the clear identification of priorities. As all engaged are part of the system, the mappings and assessments are found to, in themselves, result in changes to the system, including triggering system strengthening activities and creating political space. It is not a ‘report’ that is the desired end-product of a mapping and assessment, rather it is recommended that mapping and assessment is specifically linked with the ongoing reform process and/or within the ‘regular’ government planning processes. An additional desired product is the priorities identified as key to strengthen the system and that these are subsequently acted on.[10] A few years on from the initial work in South Asia, it is an important time to document what has occurred, and to reflect on the consequences that have resulted.


(Please find the  attachment herewith  for detailed Terms of Reference )


[1] For more information see UNICEF, UNHCR, Save the Children, World Vision. A Better Way to Protect ALL Children: The theory and practice of child protection systems, Conference Report, UNICEF, 2013; and, Wulczyn, F., Daro, D., Fluke, J., Feldman, S., Clodek, C., & Lifanda, K. (2010) Adapting a  Systems Approach to Child Protection: Key concepts and considerations, UNICEF, 2010. In addition see Joint Statement on Child Protection Systems in sub-Saharan Africa, and academic articles that informed the global child protection system work such as represented in the presentations at the conference “A Better Way to Protect ALL Children: The theory and practice of child protection systems”. https://knowledge-gateway.org/sharekluo5tgnjrn31p71ra1zp7b2hnkl48j5vz27/childprotection/cpsystems/cpsconference/library  Annex A includes a diagram of the child protection system.

[2] UNICEF, Child Protection System Mapping and Assessment Tool Kit, 2010. It comprised of User's guide, Core toolkit and Comprehensive toolkit. This can be found at http://www.unicef.org/protection/57929_58022.html#CPS.

[3] Bhutan, Maldives and Nepal had individual consultants. In Pakistan, a local research institute was hired.

[4] This is comprised of Secretaries of all line ministries

[5] Planning to set it up in all 20 districts across the country by 2017.

[6] The study aims at generating information related to violence against children including perceptions and practices that possibly drive or inhibit violence against children.

[7] Initiated in 2014 it is expected to be complete end 2016.

[8] Sindh, Punjab, Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Gilgit-Baltistan.

[9] This appears in draft Ten Year Strategy for Child Protection.

[10] See the earlier noted conference report; and, Inter-agency Group on Child Protection Systems in sub-Saharan Africa, Strengthening Child Protection Systems in sub-Saharan Africa: A working paper. 2012.

Arthur Osuji - nepalsupply@unicef.org, Tel: +977 9805551225
Email: nepalsupply@unicef.org
First name: Arthur
Surname: Osuji
Telephone country code: Nepal (+977)
Telephone number: 9805551225
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