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Community Based Child Protection in Liberia. Conference on Child Protection Systems Strengthening in Sub-Saharan Africa, Dakar, Senegal 7-9 May 2012 . Contextual Background. Liberia was relatively calm until 1980 Military coup in 1980 ushered 14 years of civil conflict

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Community based child protection in liberia
Community Based Child Protection in Liberia

Conference on Child Protection Systems Strengthening in Sub-Saharan Africa,

Dakar, Senegal

7-9 May 2012

Contextual background
Contextual Background

  • Liberia was relatively calm until 1980

  • Military coup in 1980 ushered 14 years of civil conflict

  • Around 250,000 people were killed in Liberia's civil war and many children were either orphaned or separated from their families

  • The conflict left the country in economic ruin with serious socio-economic implications

  • Orphanages have increased from 10 before the war to 114 after the war

Child protection situation in liberia
Child Protection Situation in Liberia

10% of women aged 15-49 have had their first sexual intercourse forced

38% of women aged 20-24 years gave birth before the age of 18

58% of girls and women aged between 15 and 58 have undergone female genital cutting (FGC)

one in five children between the ages of 5-14 engaged in labour activities

53% of school age children are currently not in school

35% of households in Liberia have either foster children or orphans in their care

80% of over 4000 children in orphanages have either one or both parents alive

The child protection legal and policy framework of liberia
The Child Protection Legal and Policy Framework of Liberia

Children’s Law launched in 2012

National Social Welfare Policy

National Gender Policy

National Girls Education Policy

Alternative Care Guidelines & Tools


Child protection institutional framework
Child Protection Institutional Framework

Children’s Law

National Social Welfare Policy

National Gender Policy

National Girls Education Policy

Alternative Care Regulatory Guidelines


The liberia children s law establishes
The Liberia Children’s Law establishes…

  • Multi-sectoral roles and responsibilities - Community and Government Support to parents at the community level

  • The Community head (ex. Town Chief) has the responsibility to receive and discuss in the community issues that are/may affect the common wellbeing of children in the community.

  • Where the matter is complex to which the community head fails to address, it is refer to the CWC.

  • At the county level, the head of the county or district administration leads the development, implementation and monitoring plans in each district and provides local government authority to advance child wellbeing.

  • MoGD promotes childcare service focusing on parental skills, mother support groups, promotion of community day care centers, etc. to ease the burden of children on parents.

  • Health practitioners, teachers, social welfare officers, government, nongovernmental service providers work with and advise parents on issues affecting their children

Community child protection systems in liberia
Community Child Protection Systems in Liberia

  • Informal System

  • Family Care

  • Kinship Care

  • Neighbors

  • Traditional leaders

  • Religious Leaders

  • Mother support groups

  • Community day care centres

  • Formal System

  • Foster Care

  • Community Child Welfare committees

  • Children’s clubs

  • Child Welfare Officers

  • Social Welfare Supervisors

  • Traditional civil courts

Linkages between government and civil society
Linkages Between Government and Civil Society

Civil Society

  • Capacity building for community child welfare committees

  • Sensitisation of community leaders on child protection

  • Community awareness and empowerment on child protection

  • Support to children’s clubs for peer education on child protection

  • Monitoring and reporting child protection violations


  • Provide regulatory Framework for community based alternative care such as foster care and adoption

  • Through Ministry of Internal Affairs regulate the oversight role of traditional leadership

  • Regulate the work of child welfare committees through Ministry of Gender and Development

  • Receive and respond to cases of child abuse through Ministry of Justice (Police)

  • Provides basic services for child growth and development

Gaps and opportunities
Gaps and Opportunities


  • No clear child protection case management system linking the formal and community based systems

  • No effective judicial gate-keeping practice for taking children into alternative care

  • No clear community based mechanism for regulating kinship care often leading to harm

  • Harmful cultural practices continue despite efforts made so far (FGC, child witchcraft, witch-hunting, early marriages etc)

  • Harmful parental practices: Girls put under pressure to provide for families


  • Children’s Law has formalised CWCs and Children’s clubs

  • Liberia is developing Adoption Law to provide a clear framework for community based alternative care

  • The Child Protection Network offers a good platform for coordination

  • A good working relationship exists between MoGD, MoJ and MoHSW

  • MOJ is currently developing diversion guidelines and programmes for the child justice system

Case how kemah and blama g ave away their children
Case: How Kemah and BlamaGave away their children

  • One day Aunt Grace visited a village and requested to take Kemah and Blama’s children with her to Monrovia so that they could access quality education and health care.

  • She was given 11 children ranging from age 4 to 12 but once in Monrovia she placed them in a substandard orphanage where they were subjected to abuse and exploitation.

  • The community reported the orphanage to the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare leading to its shut down and relocation of all the children to better orphanages while family tracing continued.

  • Based on the information gathered from the children, their families were traced in Gleegbar Town, Margibi County.

  • Upon hearing this, the entire village went into a rage and two members were sent to find the children.

  • All the children were reunified with their parents and were able to access birth registration

Looking ahead
Looking Ahead…

Development of a comprehensive case management system

Develop Operational Guidelines for CWCs

Finalise Adoption Laws

Revise Alternative Care Guidelines to include community based alternative care systems

Public Awareness and Social Mobilisation around the new Children’s Law