Ministry: Central agency to oversee Child Friendly Cities Initiative in Sarawak

Fatimah (seated, centre) and others in a group photo at KPWK office.

KUCHING, Oct 3: The Child Friendly Cities Initiative (CFCI) in Sarawak can be established with a central agency responsible for coordinating and overseeing integrated, comprehensive, balanced, and evidence-based initiatives that promote child-friendly cities in Sarawak.

According to a press release from the Ministry of Women, Childhood, and Community Wellbeing Development (KPWK) Sarawak, through a coordinated governance, CFCI Sarawak, which is comprised of members from the targeted municipalities; relevant ministries and agencies could be able to drive effective strategies.

“The Sarawak delegation had participated in the ‘UNICEF Child Friendly Cities: East Asia – Europe Interregional Exchange’ which was held from Sept 4 to Sept 9, 2023.

“It was organised by the UNICEF Regional Office for East Asia and the Pacific, with support from UNICEF Spain, UNICEF Finland, and the UNICEF East Asia Child Friendly Cities Network.

“The six-day exchange programme was divided into two parts: a policy dialogue on Child Friendly Cities on Sept 4th and 5th, 2023 in CaixaForum Madrid, Spain, and a city visit for Asian delegations to Child Friendly Cities Initiative cities in Spain (Sept 4th and 6th, 2023) and Finland (Sept 7th and 8th, 2023),” the press release stated.

KPWK noted that the objectives of participating in the exchange programme were to develop a collaborative network and linkages with CFCI cities that participated.

“Among participating Asian countries were Vietnam, China, and the Philippines, while the European countries were represented by Austria, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Poland, Spain, and Switzerland.”

It went on to say that the exchange programme also gave meaningful insights into appropriate policies, innovation, knowledge, projects, and children’s participation that could be replicated, adopted, and adapted by the relevant local authorities and the ministry to embark on CFCI in Sarawak.

“To date, five local municipalities have signed the memorandum of understanding (MOU) with UNICEF to implement CFCI in Sarawak. They are the Kuching North City Hall (DBKU), the Kuching South City Council (MBKS), the Miri City Council (MCC), the Padawan Municipal Council (MPP), and the Sibu Municipal Council (SMC).

KPWK also stated that the good practices and real-life experiences shared during the exchanges in Madrid and Helsinki indicate that the participation of children and young people is a critical success factor for CFCIs.

“Congruent to this, let us start by setting up children or young people councils or commissions for Sarawak to facilitate their participation and respect for their views.

“We need to view children and young people’s participation as a fundamental right that lies at the heart of building a child-friendly city or community.

“Their active engagement is essential to reflect and address their concerns, ideas, and priorities in our policies, services, and facilities that they use or that affect them.”

The Sarawak delegation included KPWK Sarawak Minister Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah; MCC Mayor Adam Yii Siew Sang; MBKS Mayor Dato Wee Hong Seng; KPWK permanent secretary Noriah Ahmad; Local Government and Housing Sarawak chief assistant senior secretary Mohammad Lotfi Tuah; Social Development Council Sarawak executive secretary Dr. Zufar Yadi Brendan Abdullah; Infrastructure deputy director Mohammad Faisal Adenan; Ag City Engineer Che Abu Bakar Che Said; Ag Public Relations and Corporate Development manager Ting Tiew Lik; and KPWK media officer Diana Jeno. — DayakDaily