Policy formulation, implementation and practice on the ground sometimes tend to disconnect. The envisioned good and the attendant benefits sometimes seem to fail to converge. Particularly in Social Protection programmes, challenges emerge right from the design stage, selection of beneficiaries and the roll out of the programmes. This is normally the case where programmes are targeted because of limited resources ending up with exclusion and inclusion errors. These errors refer to beneficiaries who are deserving of the benefits missing out on them and those not deserving being included, respectively. A monitoring and evaluation exercise is therefore crucial to ensure effectiveness and efficiency of the programme. Save the Children (Sweden) - ECAF, through the Africa Platform for Social Protection provided funding for a research on Children’s Protection Policies and Rights in Rwanda. The research area is one which is of particular interest to the African Union’s Department of Social Affairs. A validation meeting for the research held between 8th and 11th August 2012, was attended by the APSP’s Executive Director, Dr. Tavengwa Nhongo.

The research which was commissioned by the Rwanda Civil Society Platform (RCSP) assessed child protection policies, programs and interventions in the country. The relevance of the study was geared towards looking at gaps between child protection processes (policies, legal framework and intervention) and the reality on the ground. The entire process serves to create awareness on what is going on, on the ground, as well as in informing key policy design questions. In addition, the findings allow for the development of engagement strategies with the relevant stakeholders. The meeting that saw twenty seven (27) participants in all, drew representation from civil society, government, international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) such as Care, Handicap International, Plan, UNICEF etc.

On the report, Dr. Nhongo pointed out that unfortunately Africa had become notorious for developing excellent policies which gather dust on shelves, expressing hope that this particular report would catalyse action. However, for this to occur there needs to be collaboration among government departments as well as from the Civil Society. He reiterated the need to finalise the document ensuring that government buys in and owns the report. The process should then move to the use of recommendations from the report and sharing of the document to all stakeholders. It is very encouraging to note that this ground breaking report has been well received by different organizations which have read the preliminary draft and started employing sections of the report. UNICEF for instance has undertaken to support in making the report more concise, whereas Plan International has undertaken to carry out further assessments based on the report. Most encouraging is the fact that government has already began including policy amendments some of which were concluded in April 2012 for instance in the closure of a prison that mixed adults and children.

The report will be subjected to a final validation meeting that will draw in senior government officials as well as interested stakeholders. This exercise will come before the dissemination of the document to the general public. APSP’s hopes that the report will serve as a learning document for not only other platforms but also for governments which are seeking to engage in a similar process in respect to Social Protection policies and programmes, geared towards children. One such opportunity would be during the East African Exchange Workshop slated for later on this year in Rwanda, an event that allows different countries from the region to share experiences and practice in Social Protection. The Southern African Exchange Workshop is slated for September 2012 in Malawi.

RCSP in line with the report’s recommendations are developing a proposal to be submitted to UNICEF looking at key advocacy activities scheduled for the recent future. The full details of the report will be available on our website as soon as the report is launched, keep it here for more details.

 

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