The Child Protection Sub-Sector in North-East Nigeria conducted in June a perception survey on the impact of COVID-19 Pandemic and the well-being of children and child protection service delivery.
Involving respondents from 24 organizations providing CP services in NE Nigeria, the study covers the period from March to May 2020 and, given the challenges to collect information directly from the children and community members, is limited to the perception of CP actors.
The survey documents: the understanding of COVID-19 by children and communities; the impact of lock-down and other restrictive measures on the well-being of children and their families; the extent to which measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 were practised at LGA-level; the ability of CP actors to educate children and community members on COVID-19; the impact of the lock-down and other restrictive measures on CP services and delivery of services; the extent to which CP actors found the guidance provided by the CPSS coordination team on COVID-19 useful.
In a nutshell, the perception survey found that:
· Over 60% of the respondent organizations observed that majority of the children did not believe that the COVID-19 virus exists whereas respondent organizations observed that community members (18 years and above) tended to believe the existence of the virus in comparison to children.
· Thirty-eight (38%) of the respondents reported that children and 70% of the respondents reported community members (18 years and above) had information on what the COVID-19 virus is, how it is spread and how to protect themselves.
· The consequences that were observed to mostly affect children were (i) girls and boys having limited access to remote education services, (ii) increased psychosocial distress amongst girls and boys and (iii) limited access to sanitary materials for girls.
· The consequences that were observed to mostly affect the well-being of caregivers and families were (i) inability of caregivers to provide basic goods (food, etc.) for their children; (ii) loss of jobs and livelihoods; (iii) fear for the health and well-being of families; and (iv) increased psychosocial distress for women and men.
· In terms of the media used to deliver child messages on COVID-19, a combination of audio messaging and banners was observed to be the most effective medium for children and community members.
· The child protection services most impacted by the lockdown measures were provision of psychosocial support for caregivers and children and community reintegration for children formerly associated with armed groups (CAAG).
· The adapted modalities for child protection service delivery most utilized by the respondent organizations were (i) strengthening of community-based child protection mechanisms; (ii) in-person case management for high-risk cases only; (iii) remote capacity building for staff and volunteers; and (iv) in-person psychosocial support for high-risk caregivers only.
· A total of 80% of the respondent organizations were able to maintain supervision and mentoring for all child protection staff who continued working during the period covered by the survey whilst 17% were only able to maintain supervisory mentoring for some of their staff.
Based on these findings, the Child Protection Sub-Sector presents a set of recommendations on additional actions that need to be undertaken to improve access to child protection within the context of the pandemic and highlights the need for changes in strategy, approaches and processes by CP actors and donors. The CPSS therefore calls for investment in system strengthening particularly community-based structures to enable children and communities cope with the changes bought by the pandemic, which will require increased multi-year predictable funding and accelerating of localization.