Implementing the Children’s Agenda: SCFM Initiative
The Sustainable and Child Friendly Municipalities Initiative is a collaborative effort among the Ministry of Labour, Local Government & Rural Development, the Belize Mayors’ Association, NCFC, UNICEF, and UNDP. In 2014, The Mayors of the nine municipalities in Belize signed an agreement for achieving Sustainable and Child Friendly Municipalities. The nine municipalities are the cities of Belize and Belmopan and towns of Orange Walk, Benque, San Ignacio and Santa Elena, Corozal, Dangriga, Punta Gorda, and San Pedro.
The Sustainable and Child Friendly Municipality Initiative (SCFMI) defines a child friendly municipality as “….any local system of governance, committed to fulfilling children’s rights. It is a municipality where the voices, needs, priorities and rights of children are an integral part of public policies, programmes and decisions. It is, as a result, a municipality that is fit for all”. These policies and decisions are better for the municipality and children are healthier, safer and better protected. The result is a municipality fit for children, and fit for all.
A municipality is deemed to be “child friendly” if children and youth are able to:
- Be included in decisions about their municipality;
- Express their opinions about the municipality they want in a meaningful way’;
- Participate in family, community and social life;
- Receive basic services such as health care and education;
- Drink safe water and have access to proper sanitation;
- Be protected from exploitation, violence and abuse;
- Walk safely in the streets on their own’
- Meet friends and play;
- Have green spaces for plants and animals;
- Live in an unpolluted environment;
- Participate in cultural and social events’;
- Be an equal citizen of their municipality with access to every service, regardless of ethnic origin, religion, income, gender or disability.
Linked to Children’s Agenda
The Decision of the Sustainable and Child-friendly Municipality Initiative Project Steering Committee and the Belize City Council to align the municipality strategic plan with this national agenda is a strategic move and offers a number of benefits, inter alia:
- a common strategic framework for social development;
- an opportunity for improved vertical coordination [Central and Local Government] and horizontal coordination [across government, private and civil society active at the municipal levels];
- it is embedded within a child-rights framework and places equal emphasis on key results and supporting processes;
- it has an established monitoring framework;
- it is grounded in a consultative and inclusive process with children & adolescents and service providers;
- it is well aligned with the Sustainable and Child-friendly Municipalities Concept/Domains; and importantly,
- it enjoys bi-partisan (UDP and PUP) political support.