Rwanda at a glance

UNICEF added value


UNICEF added value

UNICEF Rwanda/2011/Noorani
© UNICEF Rwanda/2011/Noorani

Innovations in the way UNICEF works in Rwanda

When UNICEF began its work in Rwanda in 1986 and even in the years after the Genocide of 1994, its assistance was focused on emergency, recovery and small projects. With the passage of the Rwanda Aid Policy and the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness, UNICEF’s work took on an upstream nature focusing on supporting the Government at policy level.

This means that UNICEF support to Rwanda focuses on strengthening human resources of ministries and key partners, building the capacity of national institutions, offering policy advice, contributing to research and assisting the Government to model programmes (based on time‐tested successful experiences from around the world). Many of these models (mentioned below) have or are being scaled up across the country so that they can reach more children.

Its added value

With its highly qualified national and international staff, its legacy as the world’s leading agency for children and its ability to innovate and produce results for children, UNICEF has been able to offer Rwanda technical support that has helped set standards to improve the quality of its schools; improve the health and wellbeing of its women and children; promote hygiene and sanitation; and to put in place systems to strengthen good governance and protect children.

Results for Children

UNICEF’s contribution to Rwanda’s national development focuses on the following areas:

Quality Education

  • UNICEF introduced Child Friendly School (CFS) standards to 75 schools in Rwanda. The results have been remarkable and as such the Ministry of Education has now adopted CFS principles as the minimum quality standards for all schools around the country. Furthermore, following the Government’s decision to fast track Nine Years of Basic Education in 2009, UNICEF supported the construction of close to 6,000 classrooms based on CFS standards. 
  • UNICEF helped the Ministry of Education develop a policy for Early Childhood Development. Evidence from Brazil, Chile, Columbia and the USA, indicates that ECD can facilitate the transformation of societies into more productive, creative and competitive ones, because it enables parents and caregivers to better promote the full development of a child’s brain through adequate stimulation and care. Even children from poor households who benefit from ECD can become fast learners. Many communities in Rwanda, through the support of their mayors, have already opened ECD centres, which will benefit from guidelines and tools to enhance the quality of care they provide.

Health, Nutrition and HIV

  • UNICEF introduced Rapid SMS cell phone technology to the Ministry of Health in 2009, as a tool to reduce delays in accessing life‐saving care for mothers and newborns. Following the success of this initiative in the district of Musanze, UNICEF donated 15,000 RapidSMS‐enabled cell phones to the government to cover all Rwanda’s 15,000 villages. Due to this, the country is now poised to expand the use of this technology to collect quality data in other sectors at a low cost. 
  • Based on the results of community based nutrition in fifteen districts of Rwanda, all of Rwanda’s districts are now developing district plans for the elimination of chronic malnutrition. 
  • Following advocacy from UNICEF around issues of children and AIDS, the Government of Rwanda adopted an Annual Paediatric Conference on HIV. UNICEF has also worked closely with the Imbuto Foundation to eliminate the transmission of HIV from mother to child. 
  • In partnership with the Government of Rwanda, UNICEF supports the implementation of community‐based projects to provide safe water and sanitation facilities for half a million people, using innovative, sustainable and cost–effective technologies.

Child Protection

  • UNICEF has supported the creation of forums, at the district and national levels, where children and children’s issues have a voice. 
  • UNICEF supported the Ministry of Justice to organize Child Legal Aid Weeks in 2009 and 2010 to provide trials to over 1,600 pending cases of children in conflict with the law. 
  • Based on data related to violence against women, UNICEF supported the development of two model One Stop Centres for survivors of violence and is currently working with Government to scale them up. 
  • UNICEF has modelled an approach for the reintegration of street children, which will be used to transform centres around the country as centres of excellence for the care of vulnerable children.



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