Diversity Sparks Community Change and Action: Bottom-Up Approaches to Holistic Child Protection and Psychosocial Support in Sub-Saharan Africa

[Speaker] Wessells, Michael G:1
1:Columbia University (United States of America)

Top-down, expert driven approaches have dominated efforts to protect children and enable their well-being in sub-Saharan Africa. Although useful, these approaches need to be complemented with community-driven approaches that enable diversity to spark social norms change and better alignment of nonformal and formal systems. Drawing on action research in Sierra Leone, it examines a case of bottom-up system strengthening that features youth leadership and community driven action on behalf of vulnerable children. It illustrates how community driven linkages with the formal system promote the use of formal services and enable ownership, effectiveness, and sustainability of the system. It suggests that with appropriate facilitation, community driven action can be a source of emergent harmonies and an effective platform for changing local social norms in ways that promote children's rights and well-being.
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