The National Commission for Children (NCC) has called for collective efforts to protect the rights of children.
Dr Claudine Uwera Kanyamanza, the executive secretary of NCC, said the wellbeing of children will be ensured if relevant stakeholders work together.
She was responding to survey results showing that the state of child protection was wanting in some households in Kamonyi, Nyanza, Rubavu and Rwamagana districts.
The findings of the survey conducted by a local non-governmental organisation Uyisenga Ni Imanzi in 2015 were released at a meeting on ‘Formal Kinship Care’ in Kigali on Tuesday.
The survey aimed at establishing the state of child protection in the communities, understanding children issues, to seek ways for efficient and sustainable protection and care.
The survey shows that legal registration rates in Rubavu District were lower compared to other districts, while almost one out of two children interviewed said they were not registered in birth registers. 40.2 per cent of Rubavu orphaned children were also reported not to have foster families.
The survey cited illiteracy, ignorance, domestic violence, lack of family planning and polygamy among the factors exposing children to vulnerability.
One child out of three in Kamonyi was reported not able to get food easily, meaning that they have less than a full meal once a day.
At the time of the survey 42.9 per cent of children in Rwamagana were not benefiting from the medical insurance scheme.
It also showed that more than a third of Nyanza children were not regularly attending school due to their parents’ mindset and poverty among others while 43.9 per cent of them were considered as having dropped out of school.
As one of the consequences of dropout, 73.9 per cent of dropouts in Nyanza were reported being subjected to child labour.
Among the four districts, Kamonyi was found to lack referral systems for children with specific issues like sexual abuse cases.
Dr Kanyamanza cautioned parents against child abandonment.
“The government has different programmes that help vulnerable families depending on their level of poverty, but this cannot be an answer, parents need to plan for their children by embracing family planning and savings associations,” she said.
Speaking at the meeting, Chaste Uwihoreye, the director of Uyisenga Ni Imanzi, called on communities to play a central role in child protection.
He said the organisation started a child protection and care project aimed at linking parents, teachers, children, local authorities and school representatives to put in place strong mechanisms for development of children in a safe and environment.
He added that to ensure success of the initiative, 81 child protection structures had been created and 150 para social workers elected in the five districts.
They provide training, daily advice, and appropriate solutions like orientating people to utilise referral centers.
Trainings have been provided to empower parents on child protection and wellbeing, Uwihoreye said.
Dr Kanyamanza said child adaptation would be another response and called on Rwandans to develop the culture of adopting homeless children.