During my time in Guinea, I have been able to see firsthand the importance of partnerships between private NGOs and the public sector. I have learned that in order to have long-term development solutions, supportive policies that require coordinated efforts need to be put in place from both actors. Without sound policies, development efforts are all short-term. I have also learned that field-level development work, such as what Tostan does, produces evidence which helps to frame policies, resulting in more effective strategies.

This year, the Guinean Government, specifically the National Directorate of Preschool Education and Child Protection (DNEPPE), and UNICEF decided to prioritize collaborative policies to develop more holistic and efficient approaches through policy and community-level implementation. They have joined forces to improve the lives of children and women in Guinea through the creation of a Comité de Pilotage du Programme Protection de l’Enfant (Child Protection Committee).

This committee brings together all the key stakeholders working in the field of child protection, including Tostan, and serves to harmonize the interventions between the State, national and international NGOs, and financial partners to better implement programs in the field. The committee is tasked with managing and implementing programs, encouraging dialogue, and developing ways to better collaborate between all groups.

At a meeting on April 10, 2014, Mr. Keita Bafodé, the Deputy Director of the Committee, acknowledged the efforts and work of Tostan in front of participants:

“We congratulate Tostan for its alignment with the National Policy on Protection of Children and Women in Guinea which is demonstrated by our involvement in joint field missions, the regularity of its quality narrative reports, and the constant sharing of information with us. Sharing its reports helps us to develop the initial reports of the Additional Protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) that we submit at the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child.”

This current partnership is an exciting step in making strides towards child protection both at the community and national levels. It was a very interesting experience for me to support and be part of the ‘policy performing body’ of the DNEPPE because I believe that real change can result only through a coordinated commitment across sectors.

Tostan’s approach is to work closely with communities who participate in our program while involving the State’s opinions and interventions. The recognition we received by the Child Protection Committee has translated into more visibility for Tostan programs in Guinea, potentially leading to new partnerships with the State and other NGOs. We at Tostan Guinea are excited by these prospects and are committed to supporting the efforts of the Committee to better promote children’s rights across the country.

Story by Victoria Ryan, Assistant to the National Coordinator in Guinea, Tostan