Study in Rwanda indicates caregiver relationships as one key to child protection

Rwanda-KAP-refugee-study190x260More than 56,000 refugees, originating mainly from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) are currently being assisted by UNHCR in Rwanda. The majority of refugees were displaced by armed conflict and violence in the DRC which occurred during 1996-1998. In 3 of the camps that serve as their temporary home, AVSI recently carried out a Knowledge, Attitudes and Behavior survey to guide more effective child protection programs.

AVSI works with UNHCR and Unicef in Gihembe, Nyabiheke, Kiziba and Kigeme camps to respond to the protection needs of refugee children, reinforcing the child protection system in the refugee camp and has two objectives: a) to build the refugee community’s knowledge and capacity to protect and take care of children at risk; b) to establish and provide holistic rehabilitation services for children who are victims of abuse, neglect and exploitation.

The key objectives of the KAP Survey were:

  1. To gather selected baseline information on the knowledge, attitudes and behaviours of children and duty bearers with regards to child protection in AVSI’s areas of operation in refugee camps in Rwanda.
  2. To identify barriers that may contribute to violations of children’s right to protection, and enabling factors that improve children’s access and willingness to use prevention and response services.

Rwanda-Kap-studyA mixed methods approach was used throughout the study, incorporating both quantitative and qualitative research methods of collecting and analysing: the mixed methods approach allowed us to better investigate the complex nature of phenomena from the participants’ point of view, and to analyse the relationships between measurable variables; thus drawing on the strengths and minimizing the weaknesses of each type of research.

Data collection tools included structured household questionnaires, focus group discussion guidelines and key informant interview guidelines. Data collection took place between mid November and mid December 2012.

Quantitative questionnaires were distributed to a total of 598 respondents, resulting in 315 interviews with caregivers and 283 with children. Questionnaires were administered in Kinyarwanda face-to-face by three Rwandan researchers that assisted the respondents throughout the compilation process.

The qualitative survey was carried out through focus group discussions, with a balanced mix of 55 representatives from Community Protection Committees, religious and community leaders, schoolteachers, government officials, and personnel from international organizations and of NGOs participated in the focus groups, and  through key informant interviews with the most relevant stakeholders in the related area of child protection.

 

Overall, the research showed that the functioning of the child protection system in the three camps was satisfactory; however, some gaps and challenges were identified:

  • Parent-child relationships The common use of physical violence on children (even though it was recognized or at least reported to be wrong), the requests for more help in improving parent-child communication, and the expressed desire to learn new educational methods all demonstrated that a gap remains between awareness activities with caretakers and their daily practices.

  • Creation of a protective environment Camps are overcrowded, and data trends show the number of residents increasing. This has lead to factors which aggravate children's health risks, such as the lack of food security (71 per cent of caregivers stated that they are able to feed their children only once per day), and widespread malnutrition.

  • Education gaps Though education has been shown to help prevent the recurrence of violence and to create economic opportunities, currently secondary education is available only for those who are able to pay for it. In a context where 80 per cent of caregivers is unemployed, this means that very few of the boys and girls in the camp will have the opportunity to pursue higher education beyond junior secondary school.

  • Prevention mechanisms As a result of large-scale awareness campaigns, both categories of respondents demonstrated a broad knowledge of CPCs, NGOs and International Organizations. However, confusion and overlapping were observed with respect to the Abarengerabana and Nkundabana sections of the CPCs. The system for reporting abuses still has a number of obstacles to overcome, and non-reporting is still a challenge that, if not addressed properly and in a timely manner, could undermine the whole Child Protection system.

  • Response mechanisms The community-based approach used so far as a response mechanism was observed to be insufficient in addressing the victims’ needs of privacy and specialized psychological support.

     

    Read more:

    AVSI in Rwanda

    Download the Study

    AVSI in the UNHCR Refugee Bulletin