Humla Declaration: Facilitating Government Commitment to the Protection of Child Rights

Since 2006, our Nepal Country Director, Pralhad Dhakal has been leading our Remote Community Development work with conviction and dedication. This became more apparent than ever last year when he helped to spearhead the creation of a ‘Humla Declaration’ in collaboration with local NGOs and local government. This important declaration outlines the district’s commitment to child protection. With the pandemic leading to devastating increases in child trafficking, this agreement has come at a crucial time.

“Humla has a high tendency of child trafficking – one of the highest in Nepal,” Adara’s Nepal Country Director, Pralhad Dhakal, explains. The passion in Pralhad’s voice is clear. After all, he has worked in this space for many years.

The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted the lives of girls and children globally. Experts have found that widespread school closures paired with increasing inequalities have led to a devastating increase in child trafficking. This tragic reality led Adara to expand and deepen our anti-trafficking work in 2021.

“For 16 years we’ve managed a programme for trafficked children,” Pralhad says. “So, we know how bad the impact of child trafficking is. We have deep experience in this space, and we also know that child trafficking has not stopped.”

“We thought we now have to put extra effort to increase awareness about trafficking among parents, the local government, officials and civil society organisations in Humla, Karnali and Kathmandu,” Pralhad says.

It was this desire to increase local, regional and national awareness of the impacts of trafficking that led Adara to hold an event on the protection of child rights. We did this in partnership with the National Child Rights Council (NCRC) and UNICEF.

“We formed a partnership to do this event and invited all the local government officials and civil society organisations in Humla. And you know, we talked about child trafficking, we talked about child rights, we talked about child protection,” Pralhad says.

The outcome from these three days of discussion was the creation of a ‘Humla Declaration’ that outlines the district’s commitment to child protection. The declaration has nine commitments, including appointing a Child Welfare Officer, identifying and supporting at-risk children, committing to ending the practice of sending children into illegal institutional care, and operating a Child Helpline.

“It’s crucial to conduct continuous awareness and sensitisation sessions to curb down social intolerance and community While the event was coordinated by Adara, NCRC and UNICEF, the creation of the declaration was led by the local government. According to Pralhad, this highlights the government’s commitment to the declaration.

This activity is just one of our antitrafficking initiatives, yet it’s a powerful example of how we are using our experience to influence change at a policy level.

 “I think they will definitely implement it because it’s their commitment. They drafted it, they designed it, and they committed to make it happen.”

 “I hope that the municipality will be very sensitive with the systems and resources to protect children.”

“My hope is this will have a great impact to stop child trafficking and that there is a sensitivity in the government”

Pralhad Dhakal, Nepal Country Director

We have been working with The Himalayan Innovative Society (THIS) since 2006. THIS is a local NGO in Humla that works to reduce the incidence of child trafficking from the district. In 2021, we agreed to further leverage our partnership to deepen our antitrafficking work. Together, we initiated projects including watchdog committees, conferences and radio programmes. In April 2021, we joined THIS as they held their first anti-trafficking event of the year. The goal of the event was to raise awareness of this issue with government agencies and policymakers. The Minister for Women, Children and Senior Citizens attended the event, which received significant media coverage in Nepal.

Looking forward, we will continue our work to deepen our anti-trafficking work, and work towards our goal to eliminate child trafficking by improving the quality of education in schools and encouraging parents to send their children – especially girls – to school. We will continue to also raise awareness among policymakers and influencers, and implement anti-trafficking projects with our partners.

Read more stories of joy and hope, like Rebecca and baby Joyce’s, in our 2021 Operations Report.

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