Rwanda: Over 75,000 Children to Benefit From Home-Based Care Initiative

17 September 2021

At least 75,000 children are set to benefit from home-based Early Childhood Development (ECDs) centres.

The centres will provide holistic care to children in terms of education, nutrition, and healthcare.

The beneficiaries are mainly from those parents who can't afford to holistically care for their young ones.

So far, 4,905 out of the 5,000 home based ECDs have been established in 300 sectors across Rwanda, with focus on rural communities.

The remaining 95 centres are expected to be established by September 30.

Under the initiative, a home -mainly for one of the beneficiary parents in a given community - is selected to host the centre and it is equipped and caregivers appointed to take of the children in that area.

The initiative was introduced by the Imbuto Foundation under the Office of the First Lady and the Local Administrative Entities Development Agency (LODA), which is under the Ministry of Local Government.

The plan was to be completed in June this year.

However, speaking to The New Times, Clement Kabiligi, the Education Unit Coordinator at Imbuto Foundation, said that they were set back by the Covid-19 pandemic.

"The pandemic interrupted field work activities and most required physical gatherings," he said.

According to implementers of this project, one of its objectives is to address challenges including stunting in early development; from birth to six years of age.

The percentage of stunted children under the age of 5 dropped from 38 per cent to 33 per cent in the last five years, as shown by latest figures from the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda.

About 35,000 caregivers have been trained and mentored to provide ECD services at these centres while 960 grassroots leaders have been trained and equipped with the necessary skills to train, monitor, support and supervise the program at grassroots levels. Each centre will have at least seven caregivers.

Local leaders are expected to partner in reducing cases of stunting.

Under the home-based ECDs initiative each centre has at least seven caregivers per site, one of them being their leader with 10 to 15 children.

The intervention follows a study that assessed the impact of Vision 2020 Umurenge Program (VUP)-which aims at eradicating extreme poverty and malnutrition, among other social-economic challenges.

Justin Gatsinzi, LODA's Social Protection Division Manager said: "We know VUP by income-generating projects, direct support, loan schemes, and more. We conducted a study, with questions like 'would this programme affect how parents take care of their children'?

We thought the project was perfect, but we have since noted areas that needed to be strengthened, including gender equality and taking care of children," he said

Currently, 2,318 home based ECDs are operational and 680 of these have started providing parenting sessions to parents in the community within 45 sectors.

"These parenting sessions are aiming at building the capacity of parents and the community in general on positive parenting and child care in general," Kabiligi said

Adding that other home based ECDs will soon start parenting programme soon before the end of September and expect to reach home-based ECDs program targets by December.

However, sustainable results can be expected by December 2022.

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