The most vulnerable families need national support in order to thrive and provide adequate care for their children.
Earlier this year we released the first in our series of country reports examining Social Protection provision in Rwanda. The report found that cash transfers and the country’s VUP Public Works scheme has overwhelmingly positive effects on many aspects of care – although there are still many areas which need refining.
“We were living in poverty, we were not having a place to stay in, but VUP gave us money, now we have bought iron sheets to build a beautiful home, we get sufficient food, school materials and health insurance.” Research participant
Chaste Uwihoreye, from Uyisenga Ni Imanzi (UNM) who conducted the research, has been discussing the findings at the biennial Symposium for Children Affected by AIDS in Melbourne this week.
He said: “I was pleased to be able to share our findings with colleagues from across the globe
“It was very interesting conference with many professionals and researchers presenting different topics on children under five years old.
“The harm caused by inadequate care is particularly acute for very young children, and therefore policy-makers and practitioners in the child protection and social protection fields must make particular joint efforts to improve the care of such children.
“Within Rwanda we must strengthen the link between the VUP and child protection services to maximise its positive impacts for our children.”
Since the release of the report, UNM has been talking to representatives of the government and other Rwandan NGO’s about the role the country’s social protection programmes can play in child protection. It is hoped that this will lead to a strengthening and modification of existing social protection provision in the near future.
“There comes a time when a parent works in VUP, for instance a father, and after getting paid he got the whole money wasted because of the drunkenness and disputes come from there which leads to a separation.” Research participant
Key points from the report, which included the views of more than 120 adults and 90 children were:
There is a strong case that social protection can play a vital role in supporting the adequate care of children;
However the VUP Public Works component may compromise carers’ abilities to provide high quality care as they are taken away from their families;
Misuse of cash transfers – including their use for the purchase of alcohol – can have negative repercussions for children;
Transfers can also be an incentive for people to become foster carers resulting in the ‘commodification’ of children.
It is vital that we gain an understanding of the interactions between social protection programmes and the quality of care, loss of parental care, family separation and reunification. We have completed similar research has been completed in Ghana – results to be published shortly – and a further project will be run in South Africa in the Autumn.