Pathway 11 - Grassroots activism

Pathway 11 - Grassroots activism

This pathway contributes to change by:

Promoting grassroots activism that will advocate for policy and law enforcement and increased accountability among law enforcers. This will result in strengthened community-level protection and representation mechanisms for OVC at all levels.

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


All OVC are at risk of their rights being violated, more so than non-vulnerable children. They thus all need laws and policies protecting their rights to be enforced. Children without adult support and children from historically marginalized groups however often lack support from other community members who can perform the role of activist more than other OVC. This is why the following groups receive particular attention under this pathway:

  • Children without adult support
  • Children from Historically Marginalized Groups
  • Children affected by abuse, neglect and/or exploitation
  • The Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion, who is responsible for many of the relevant laws protecting OVC, and oversees anti-GBV/Child Protection Committees.
  • HAGURUKA, who trains community volunteers that support rights, including child rights, and give legal advice to community members.
  • COPORWA is a strategic partner when it comes to advocacy for the rights of historically marginalized people, including OVC from this group. So far, CARE partners with COPORWA in the Vulnerable Women Program only, but the aim is to ensure a larger focus on historically marginalized OVC.
  • Umwana ku Isonga, also known as the ‘Rwanda Civil Society Child Rights Coalition, bringing together Rwandan civil society organizations focusing on child rights, and playing an important role in advocacy, for example by producing alternative reports on the state of child rights in Rwanda.

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 National Strategy for Child Care Reform (MIGEPROF, 2013) aims at transforming Rwanda’s  current child care and protection system into a family-based system and encourages communities to jointly take care of the vulnerable children living amongst them
  • The National Policy for Family Promotion (MIGEPROF, 2005) includes child protection as one of its objectives. Among others, it defines the parents’ responsibility in the education and social management of their children.
  • The Decentralization Policy and Strategic Plan (MINALOC, 2000) show the level of decisionmaking and the responsibilities at the local government. As such it is important to identify what changes can be advocated for at the local level, and when advocacy should be targeted at high scale levels.

There are close links between pathways 11 and 12, which look at activism and advocacy for the protection and representation of OVC at the community level. The pathways complement each other as follows: Pathway 11 focuses at the ‘demand side’ of advocacy, i.e. the creation of activists at the community level who approach duty bearers to ask for the implementation of laws and policies that protect OVC. Pathway 12 focuses on the capacity of government to engage with and respond to local activists and OVC.
This pathway focuses where possible on structures that already exist and strengthen them to (better) enable them to function as advocates for OVC. A combination of well-tested models and innovative approaches is used, including the following:

  • The Child Mentorship Model. It provides OVC with an adult mentor to help them in multiple areas in their lives. The participating children choose adults they trust to serve as their volunteer mentor.  With training and guidance from CARE, each mentor helps several child-headed or vulnerable households.
  • Para-legal advisors. HAGARUKA builds capacity of volunteer local activists to support human rights, raise awareness on laws and policies that provide the framework for human rights protection, and give legal advice to community members.
  • Advocacy for the effective functioning of Anti GBV/Child protection committees and Child Rights Observatories. These committees are a government structure that is in place at multiple scale-levels. The committees provide a potential useful framework for the protection of OVC and could function both as advocates for OVC themselves or support others in doing so.
  • Community Scorecard.The Community Scorecard (CSC) 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.
  • Involvement in national budgeting & alternative budgeting. The Government of Rwanda provides its citizens the opportunity to attend certain key meetings where the national budget is explained, discussed, and voted for. CARE Rwanda raises awareness on this possibility and encourage citizens as well as civil society organizations to participate and represent OVC during these meetings.

The following indicator is used to measure impact at the level of this pathway:

  • % of OVC and caregivers satisfied with support and protection from local authorities and community based structures
  • Through the Child Mentorship Model, CARE and its partners have build capacity of approximately 1,200 volunteer mentors, local authorities in 31 sectors in 13 districts and anti-GBV/child protection committees in 12 sectors in 12 districts on child rights and the specific challenges faced by OVC (COSMO, NIPS and NISU projects).
  • Volunteer mentors are more often being recognized by local leaders as representing OVC, either individually or through their Nkundabana Associations (associations of child mentors, ‘Nkundabana’ is Kinyarwanda for ‘I love children’).
  • KGAS (Keeping Girls at School)
  • NISU (Nkundabana Initiative Scale-Up)
  • 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 this pathway, it poses itself the following questions:

  1. How can CARE Rwanda support MIGEPROF to strengthen the  existing anti-GBV/child protection committees?
  2. How can we specifically target historically marginalized groups in local activism, without stigmatizing them or being politically incorrect by referring to ethnicity?
  3. How can CARE Rwanda support para-legal advisors to work together with existing anti-GBV/child protection committees to assist them in their, as well as to mobilize the community to play their role in child right protection?