Pathway 12 - Local government

Pathway 12 - Local government

This pathway contributes to change by:

Increasing capacity of local government to engage with OVC and creating space for OVC to provide feedback to local authorities.

  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 opportunities to engage with local leaders to discuss their challenges and needs for support. Children without adult support and children from historically marginalized groups however often lack support from other community members who represent them and engage with local authorities under their behalf. 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 and policies protecting OVC. Of specific importance is the National Commission for Children (NCC).
  • The Ministry of Local Government and local authorities, who through decentralization are responsible for the implementation of laws and policies protected OVC.
  • COPORWA is a strategic partner when it comes to advocacy for the rights of historically marginalized people, including OVC from this group.

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) includes community-based child care and protection and puts in place the anti-GBV/Child Protection Committees. As such, it provides thus an entry point for community advocacy. It is be the entry point for the government’s scaling up of the Child Mentorship Model.
  • The Decentralization Policy and Strategic Plan (MINALOC, 2000) show the level of decision-making 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. It also puts in place certain community based structures for social affairs and child protection, such as the national council for youth.
  • 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).
  • The Community Development Policy (MINALOC, 2011) ensures among others creation of funds for community development and a rigorous financial management system involving beneficiaries to ensure transparency.

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.

In order to achieve this, CARE Rwanda uses a combination of some well-tested models and innovative approaches, including:

  • The Child Mentorship Model. The Child Mentorship Model provides OVC with an adult mentor to help them in all kind of 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 extremely vulnerable households.
  • 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.
  • 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 be included or represented.
  • Capacity building to engage. In order to engage meaningfully, all parties need relevant knowledge (e.g. on child rights, relevant laws and policies, or the existing possibilities for civic participation), skills (e.g on active listening) and confidence (for citizens, to voice their opinions vis-à-vis their leaders and for local authorities, to invite feedback and possible criticism).

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

  • Degree to which local authorities use OVC’s feedback and demands to improve response and quality of services.
  • 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 on child rights and the specific challenges faced by OVC (COSMO, NIPS and NISU projects).
  • Fun days and appreciation days have brought together mentors, OVC and local authorities, which has led to more understanding of local authorities on who OVC are and what issues they face. It has made the physical distance between OVC and local leaders smaller, and helped OVC in knowing who their local leaders are.
  • For example, in Kibumbwe Sector in Nyamagabe District, where CARE’s NISU Project is partnering with AEE Rwanda, local leaders are now specifically targeting OVC in the activities that are part of the Vision 2020 Umurenge Program (VUP), a social protection program implemented by MINALOC. As a result, adult OVC are now included in cash-for-work, while younger OVC are included on the beneficiary lists for cash transfers.
  • 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 continuous learning with the aim to improve the quality of its work. In the context of this pathway, we focus on the following learning question:

  1. How can we handle possible negative side-effects of the community scorecard, such as local authorities feeling criticized, or tensions that could build up when local authorities lack either the technical skills or financial means to respond from the request that the community has, based on a better understanding of their rights?