Pathway 7 - Participation

Pathway 7 - Participation

This pathway contributes to change by:

Promoting participation and representation of OVC in decision-making processes that affect them and their families. These processes include planning, budgeting, social services, district priority setting, EDPRS development, etc. The pathway will focus both on the level of OVC (capacity and confidence to access information and to participate) as well as on the level of the decision-making bodies (receptiveness to participation by OVC and their representatives).

  See below for the specific sections of this pathway. For further information on each section please refer to the attached document.


This pathway aims to have an impact on all OVC of 12 years and older. At this age children are expected to have the capacity to develop well-funded opinions and be able to express these.
Specific focus is on children without adult support, as they have no parents or caretakers to represent them and thus rely more on their own options to participate in decision making.

  • The Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion manages different policies around OVC, organizes children summit and provides guidelines to facilitate children forums at district level. Of special relevance is the National Commission for Children (NCC), with the objective to coordinate interventions related to protection of children.
  • CLADHO is an umbrella of organizations that promote human rights. Among others, they summarize and simplify the national budgets and facilitate awareness raising at the local level.
  • The Human Rights Commission has awareness raising on rights, including the right to participate in public decision making, as one of its core activities. Its work does however not focus on children. CARE Rwanda therefore hopes to partner with them and increase this focus.

CARE Rwanda’s work on this pathway is informed by the Government of Rwanda’s policy context. Of specific importance to this pathway are:

  • The Law on Child Protection (2012) includes the obligation to consult children on decisions that directly affect their lives. For example, an orphan cannot be placed in another family without the involvement of the child in this decision.
  • The Integrated Child Rights Policy (MIGEPROF, 2011) and its strategic plan refer among others the national and district-level summits for children, organized by the National Children’s Commission (NCC).

As the pathway above describes, CARE Rwanda aims to improve both receptiveness of children’s role in decisionmaking as well as the capacity and confidence of OVC to participate. The community scorecard and children’s forums and summits focus on the strengthening of receptiveness, while peer support groups focus more on OVC’s capacities and confidence. The parent-child dialogues and the Child Mentorship Model contribute to both objectives. As participation of children is a relatively new idea in Rwanda, CARE Rwanda seeks to learn from other CARE Country Offices and CARE members to learn more about this area.

  • Community Scorecard. It is an approach that facilitates dialogue between citizens and service providers. It allows citizens to monitor and give feedback on the quality of a certain service provided.
  • Children’s forums and summits. These are government initiatives in order to support representation of children and giving them a voice towards decision-makers. As the forums and summits work with representatives on focuses on children in general, there is a risk that OVC are not included or represented.
  • Parent-child dialogue. Lack of dialogue between parents and children is perceived as a problem to make children’s participation at the household level possible. The Ruhengeri Diocese has developed an approach to facilitate dialogue.
  • The Child Mentorship Model. The Child Mentorship Model provides OVC with an adult mentor to help them in multiple areas in their lives.
  • Peer support groups. Known under many different names, peer support groups are basically groups of children and/or youth that aim at building their capacity and self-confidence.

The following indicators are used to measure impact at the level of this pathway:

  • % OVC and adults reporting meaningful participation of OVC in the public sphere.
  • % of OVC involved in decision making processes or bodies (including their involvement in setting cell level performance contract objectives, their election for children’s forums at multiple levels, and their being consulted by local administration).
  • When it comes to including children in decision-making, the Child Mentorship Model gives the good example. It is the children themselves who select an adult that they trust as their member, rather than assigning mentors to the children. This helps build confidence of the children to take decisions in a public process, but also shows others their capacity to do so.
  • Through building of capacities and confidence of OVC, they have succeeded to be elected as for example representatives in children’s forums at different scale levels from the village to the district. Other OVC have, once they have become adults, been elected in government positions such as village leaders. This shows that they have been able to go from a very vulnerable position to a position where they are in a respected position and can, taking their own background into account, support other OVC in their community to participate and share their opinion.
  • NISU (Nkundabana Initiative Scale-Up)
  • KGAS (Keeping Girls at School)
  • COSMO (Community Support and Mentoring for Orphans and Vulnerable Children)
  • NIPS (Nkundabana Initiative for Psychosocial Support)

CARE Rwanda is committed to learning, to continuously improve the relevance and quality of its work. In relation to supporting the participation of OVC in decisionmaking, it poses itself the following questions:

  1. Laws and policies don’t give a specific age when children should be involved in decisionmaking, which makes the responsibility to involve children very open for interpretation by parents and decision makers.
  2. What is a relevant and generally accepted age to start include children at the household level and at the community level?
  3. What form of capacity building is relevant to children of what age?
  4. And how can CARE stimulate inclusion at proper age and genuine expression of their own opinion rather than being used for their parents’ opinions?