ALL parents and guardians failing to fulfill their parental obligations to their children risk prosecution, the National Assembly was told here yesterday.
The Minister for Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, Ms Ummy Mwalimu, said according to the Child Act of 2009, the parent or guardian has the primary role of providing food, shelter and clothing for the child.
“So, I take this opportunity to direct all social welfare officers across the country to take legal actions against all parents and guardians not fulfilling their obligation to take care of their children,” the minister directed.
Answering a question by Khatibu Haji (Konde-CUF), the minister said that section 94 of the Child Act states that where the child has no guardian or parent it would then be the responsibility of the local government authorities to take charge.
“All of us here are councilors...we have the responsibility to ensure that councils have effective strategies to provide shelter and food to children who live in difficult environment.
So, we will continue sensitising the matter to local governments,” she said. In the question, the MP had decried an increase of street children in cities, particularly.
He therefore wanted to know government measures to alleviate the problem and ensure all children are well taken care of.
The minister admitted that it was true there has been an increase of street children in major cities in the country, with surveys conducted in Dar es Salaam and Mwanza cities in 2012 showing that Dar es Salaam alone had 5,600 street children from ten regions.
She said 28 percent of the children were from within the city, the minister said, giving other regions with the percentage of children in brackets as Dodoma (nine), Mwanza (seven), Morogoro (seven), Tanga (six), Lindi (six), Iringa (five), Coast Region (five), Kilimanjaro (five) and Arusha (four).
The minister pointed out that the government was having a primary role of ensuring the children’s safety and security. In order to fulfill the obligation, she said, the government in cooperation with other stakeholders, is implementing different strategies.
Among the strategies includes enabling the society to have plans of providing services to children in difficult environment. The strategy, she said, was being implemented in 111 councils.