Australia’s High Commissioner to Rwanda, Geoff Tooth, has said his country will continue providing more support by reaching out to the vulnerable and poor people in villages.
The diplomat made the pledge after releasing the annual report for the Australia Africa Community Engagement Scheme (AACES), showing how the Australian government supports people in African countries by focusing on the vulnerable.
In Rwanda, the Australia-funded scheme operates in Gicumbi District, Northern Province.
“I am particularly proud that Australia has been able to assist the most marginalized groups in Rwanda, including women, children, people with disability, and those vulnerable to disaster,” the High Commissioner said.
“By supporting strong community and government engagement, we also hope to contribute to greater accountability in the delivery of services to poor and marginalised people”.
In the first year of the AACES program with World Vision, the Australian project improved health services for nearly 15,000 women and children by helping them access health services including post-natal care. They have also facilitated training of over 600 Community Health Workers and nurses from 21 government health institutions in the Gicumbi District.
There is also improved community understanding of maternal and child health issues through the training of local leaders from 28 villages and the formation of 19 Village Based Child Nutrition Centres.
The impact of the program is illustrated by the increased number of women in Gicumbi villages who are starting to help each other in maternal and childcare related issues. After the first year for example, the program has seen a significant increase in the number of women seeking professional birth assistance.
As the largest AusAID-funded NGO program in Africa, AACES supports development in Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.