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If OVC have equitable access to and utilization of social and economic services and resources

If social support Structures and mechanisms that promote equitable and quality care and support for OVC exist and function

If OVC have equitable access to and utilization of social and economic services and resources

Orphans and Vulnerable Children Program (OVC)

Analysis on OVC - Executive Summary Country context

Rwanda is a landlocked country located in Central/Eastern Africa. With an estimated total population of 9.3 million and a surface area of 26,338 square kilometers, Rwanda is the most densely populated country in sub-Saharan Africa. Ranking 167th out of 182 countries in the UNDP Human Development Index, Rwanda is one of the least developed countries in the world. A number of indicators confirm that Rwanda has been able to reduce poverty and increase growth in the last few years; however, the good economic performance hides growing inequalities between social classes, geographic regions and gender. Rwanda has one of the lowest rates of urbanization in the world but the rate has been rising over the past 10 years. The country has always had a high population density, but on top of that it has experienced sustained population growth. It is among the top 10 least corrupt countries in the African continent and the least corrupt in the East African Community.

Rwanda’s development strategy is mainly based on two core documents: Vision 2020 and the Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS). Vision 2020, adopted in the year 2000, sets ambitious objectives for Rwanda’s development, including that Rwanda should be a middle-income country by 2020; it does not mention OVC but it does include some children-related issues, such as education. TheEDPRS, the 2008-2012 medium-term strategy for economic growth, poverty reduction and human development, does not have a specific focus on OVC but does acknowledge their specific needs linked to education, HIV/AIDS, food security and social protection.
As a result of the genocide and extreme poverty, Rwanda is home to at least one million OVC between the ages of 0-18, one of the world’s largest OVC percentages. The key Government documents are the National Policy for OVC approved in 2003 and the Strategic Plan 2007-2011. Their objectives are to protect the rights of the child and to ensure the physical and psychosocial long term development of OVC. The Strategic Plan foresees several bodies including the National Commission for Children, National OVC Cluster, OVC Coordination Committees and Children’s Forums.

Manifestations of Vulnerability/Poverty

Orphans are defined as children who have lost one or both parents whereas Vulnerable Children are children under 18 years exposed to conditions that do not permit the fulfillment of fundamental rights for their harmonious development, including: children living in households headed by children (CHH), children in foster care, street children, children living in centers, children in conflict with the law, children with disabilities, children affected by armed conflict, children who are sexually exploited and/or abused, working children, children affected/infected by HIV/AIDS, infants with their mothers in prison, children in very poor households, refugee and displaced children, children of single mothers, children married before the age of majority. OVC’s vulnerability in Rwanda is manifested by the following:

- Education: OVC are less likely to go to school but if they go to school their attendance rate is lower, they perform lower, they are more likely to be over-age, they are less likely to complete primary school.

- Physical health: Orphans have lower indicators of good health than their peers, including malnutrition and higher HIV/AIDS infection rate, and are less likely to get preventive health care

- Emotional health: OVC are more likely to suffer from psychosocial problems, including trauma, distress and stigmatization; psychological problems can lead to behavioural problems.

- Environmental health. Many children live in poor housing, sleep on the floor or on the streets.

- Livelihoods and income: 60-70% of households with OVCs are in need of food support while many children have to work, including in exploitative and hazardous labour.

- Rights: OVC are inadequately protected e.g. they are less likely to have a birth certificate.

Drivers of vulnerability/poverty

1. Economic factors
                Most CHHs and OVC care giving HH own insufficient land to meet basic needs and scarcity of land can lead to land disputes. OVC are also vulnerable to land grabbing by relatives. Households with OVC are poorer than non-OVC households and children in CHH have the most difficulties

Although the law prohibits work before the age of 14, many children have to work for their survival and some drop out of school to contribute to the household income. OVCs are more likely to be involved in child labour, which is particularly common and exploitative among Historically Marginalized children.
Another key economic driver of vulnerability is the costs for services: many households struggle to pay for the costs of primary education and OVC are less likely to be covered under the mutuelle de santé.
                2. Social factors
The war of 1994 and the HIV/AIDS pandemic have shredded the fabric of Rwandan society and this poses a threat to the traditional ways of incorporating OVC into the extended family structure. Many children do not trust relatives and find them more exploitative than strangers.

 There is stigma around HIV/AIDS and SGBV and this leads to neglect, social isolation and vulnerability to abuse. Many orphans feel socially isolated. Other categories that suffer from stigma and social isolation are: AIDS orphans, CHHs, street children, children of rape, children with disabilities, children affected by conflict, and married girls. Historically Marginalized children tend to be particularly discriminated.
OVCs have limited access to available health services in terms of their financial capacity to afford health services and physical capacity to access centres. OVC also have limited access to quality education, due to insufficient funding, lack of access to good quality teachers and to materials. Awareness on children’s rights is low: few cases reach court and few are resolved in their favour.
                3. Political factors
                A number of instruments and initiatives are in place to ensure protection for OVC: Law on Child Protection, National Strategic Plan for OVC, Situation Analysis of OVC, Disability Law, National Action Plan for Street Children, Rwandan Labour Code, GBV law, focal person for OVCs in National AIDS council. The Parliament includes 2 youth seats and a Ministry of Youth, Culture and Sport is in place.
 However there are problems with the implementation of the laws and some features are lacking from laws. Also, capacities of district authorities are often weak, participation of children in the design of laws and policies is low, children do not have political representation. There is reasonable protection against worst forms of child labour but child domestic workers have no remedies when their rights are violated.
                The 2001 Law on Child Protection is a good step but fails to create remedies for violations of right to education and right not to be exploited as domestic servant, is silent about children’s land rights and does not adequately protect children’s property rights. The civil law on property also has loopholes.
                4. Gender equality and inequality

In urban areas girl orphans are engaged in work twice as much as boys. Most CHHs are headed by girls and have less contact with relatives or feel supported by neighbours than boy headed CHHs. Street girls and girls in prisonexperience worse conditions than boys. Illiteracy among girls is higher and there is gender discrimination in property rights as a new law is in place but many still apply customary norms.
 Violence against girls is a significant problem: 31% of all girls experience violence and there are problems reporting or prosecuting perpetrators, due to the lack of effective policies to prevent SGBV and because stigma is high for the victims. Particularly vulnerable are girls in centres and prisons, girls with disabilities, girls in CHHs, street girls, girl domestic workers. Many girls in CHHs and street girls are financially desperate and enter prostitution, becoming at risk of HIV.

    5. Relationships
 Age, education, health and financial conditions of caretakers are key as they can hinder their capacity to support orphans. When children do not live with their parents nor attend school, they have no support to deal with their challenges and cannot develop into productive members of society. There are strong correlations between limited schooling and early marriage and there are progressively lower number of pregnancies with higher levels of education.

  Often OVC need to contribute to the household income and this leads to child labour and drop out of school. Cost of health and education services is often too high, therefore OVC are out of school and get less health care; this in turn is a driver of further poverty. Those in agricultural occupations or employed in the informal sector are likely to be poorest.
 Rwanda’s scarcity of land, together with the fact that many OVC lost their right to land, can lead to land disputes and conflicts. Lack of awareness on children’s rights leads to few court cases and to officials rarely resolving disputes in favour of children. Stigma due to HIV or SGBV leads to neglect, social isolation and vulnerability to abuse.
The total number of OVC in Rwanda was estimated at 1,350,000 in 2005 and is expected to decrease to 747,624 in 2012. Orphans were 824,054 (24.3% of all children) in 2007. CHH are 65,000, street children 7000, children born of rape 10-25,000, children living in unaccompanied children centres 4,000, children in prison 1139, HIV positive children aged 0-14 19,000, children with disabilities 93,299, married girls aged 15-19 2.6%, child mothers aged 15-19 4%, child prostitutes 2,140, child workers 200,000.
                Stakeholders analysis
                The implementation of the National Policy on OVCs is responsibility of MIGEPROF. Other bodies with children-related responsibilities include MINALOC, MINEDUC, MINSANTE, National AIDS Commission, MINIJUST, Ministry of Labour, Ministry of Defence, National Commission for Human Rights, National Youth Council and FARG. The National Children’s Summit is a yearly forum that enables children to express their views and formulate recommendations. MIGEPROF has to ensure coordination but has serious capacity constraints.

Actors involved in the OVC response in Rwanda include: ActionAid; ADRA, AVEGA, Agahozo; Bamporeze Association; CARE; Compassion International; FARG; FHI; Haguruka; Intra Health International; Oxfam; PACFA; PEPFAR; RDRC; Right to Play; RRP+; Save the Children; SOS International; UNDP; UNFPA; UNICEF; USAID; World Bank; World Vision. Some actors work with specific sub-groups on or specific issues.
                Unlike many of its neighbours, Rwanda has limited land, natural and mineral resources on which to base its development strategy. Rwanda must invest in its people and a key element should be to protect OVC
                CARE Rwanda can contribute to address the drivers of OVC’s vulnerability by taking action in some key areas: improvement of physical and emotional health of children; extend HIV/AIDS support and awareness; supporting households and caretakers economically and in terms of food security; promoting techniques to use land to the fullest; interventions to keep children off the street; support of CHH through community; promotion of gender equality; initiatives against early marriage and intergenerational sex; plans to address stigma around SGBV, HIV/AIDS, street children and child prisoners; supporting actions aimed at giving children a legal voice; providing help in legal disputes and at raising awareness on children’s’ rights and inheritance rights. In any intervention it will be crucial to avoid that aid to OVC provokes jealousy and resentment among other children.

CARE Rwanda can build on a series of internal best practices, ranging from the Nkundabana and 5 X 5 models to its own staff and the staff seconded to MIGEPROF. CARE Rwanda might want to step up its advocacy activities in OVC-related national laws and policies, strengthening the relationship and partnership with a number of institutions and actors. There are also a number of spaces for dialogue which can be better exploited, particularly the OVC and MCH Technical Working Groups
                Finally, increased impact could be achieved through more holistic and long-term interventions and thus through a successful shift to a programme approach.