Rwanda Education Alternative for Children (REACH, has launched a three year US$4.9m project which saw 21 model farms established in seven districts to rehabilitate victims of child labour.
During the launch of the project in Kigali Sector, Nyarugenge District, REACH Country Director, Jean Claude Nkurikiyinka said that the project will see children earn incomes through selling crops that they have grown.
The farms will be used as demonstration plots and learning centres for victims of child labour and give communities skills in food production, agro-technology and post harvest handling.
“Through this project, children will learn how they can benefit from agricultural activities and in the process, how they will support themselves financially in the future,” Nkurikiyinka said.
He said that this is also one ways for children to get back to school. About 2,200 children will benefit from the project and Nkurikiyinka said that in the first season children will focus on the growing of maize followed by vegetables.
By 2002 about 352,550 children were estimated to be working on coffee, tea, and sugar and rice farms. A large number were also working in stone quarries and as herdsmen.
Nkurikiyinka said that REACH will increase the number of farms to 42 from the current 21 in all the seven districts where it operates.
Most of the children rescued from child labour in Nyarugenge District are orphans below the age of 18, who dropped out of school.
Donatha Gihana, Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE) Rwanda Coordinator urged community activists to be dynamic to ensure success of the project.
REACH is a locally based project funded by the US Department of Labour (USADOL) through Winrock International (WI), Netherlands Development Organization (SNV) and Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE), which seek to withdraw 8,300 children from exploitive labour in the districts of Kayonza, Nyagatare, Nyamasheke, rural Nyarugenge, Rubavu and Gicumbi and put them in schools to acquire skills in food production, agricultural technology and post-harvest handling among others.