Strengthening Capacity for Civil Society Organisations through partnerships and Child Participation

Monday 10 January 2022



Save the Children is committed to support the Government of Rwanda to fulfil its obligation towards the realization of the rights of girls and boys with and without disabilities. This is done through different ways that include strengthening the Rwandan legal and policy framework, strengthening child rights and child protection systems, monitoring child rights with children, working on public investment in children, engaging and strengthening the capacity of the civil society actors including children to engage the government on matters that affect children and lead evidence-based advocacy

With the support from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) Save the Children Rwanda implemented theCivil Society Organization (CSOs) Strengthening programme, that had a special focus on CSOs capacity strengthening through the Organization Capacity Development (OCD) known as the ‘Strengthening an Accountable Governance that Protects and Delivers Children’s Rights’ from January 2017 to December 2021.While noting that CSOs play a key role in creating a conducive environment for children we partnered with a number of local CSOs in capacity strengthening to support initiatives that contribute to the National Strategy for Transformation.

In 2020, the project supported Children’s Voice Today (CVT) in developing the organizations 5-year Strategic Plan (2021- 2025) through consultations with different stakeholders. CVT is Rwandan non-profit organization that was established in 2001 to promote the rights of the child through meaningful child participation, where children/youth initiate and lead all activities of the organization.


Impact of OCD Support on Children’s Voice Today

The OCD support for CVT produced child-friendly and printed copies of the strategy to be disseminated across different stakeholders including children to facilitate them in understanding CVTs interventions as they played a big role in the process of developing this strategic plan and are the main actors in implementation. The strategic plan emerged from a participatory process and most importantly consolidates the contributions of children, youth mentors, board members,CVT staff, parents, members of CSOs, and government institutions.

Children from the Grassroots Groups and member of children’s forum Committees, CVT staff, Board Members and other CVT stakeholders are able to understand and appreciate the organisation intervention planned in the five years period, and commit their role and support in their implementation.

While appreciating the development of the Strategic Plan and its role in organisational capacity development, Thaddee, a CVT Board Member expressed his appreciation during the dissemination session in December 2021 “I was very pleased to participate in this preparation and production of such a useful document. This is an important tool from which CVT will be drawing knowledge to implement its interventions. It is a great job done by everyone and consequently everyone will play a big role to implement it.

Nsengumuremyi Omar Tony, one of the long-standing members of CVT and Legal Representative stated that “This kind of support is not typically given but it is needed for organizations to move a level up in achieving objectives. For CVT the activities of this project contributed a lot to our plans and improved our close collaboration with children especially from children’s groups, children’s families, local authorities and partners.”

It is also important noting the importance of child participation in all matters concerning them and their rights. However, children face challenges in voicing out their concerns and informing policies any yet their rights are still violated.

Ramadhan, 17, expresses how this projected has helped him “For me this project has changed my thoughts because now I have a better understanding on how the country works and the participation of its citizens including children.”

Josee,16,“In my sector, we did not have electricity, but because of our ideas that were considered during the national planning and budgeting for 2018/2019 electricity was brought to my community. We were very grateful to the Government of Rwanda for considering our voices and ideas.”

Patrick, 14,“I appreciate CVT for continuously giving us the opportunity to be part of different organizational processes and strategic planning. Our involvement throughout the whole process of developing the CVT Strategic plan was important because it helped us understand all planned activities by CVT in the next five years. I therefore promise that as children we will work together with other partners to thoroughly implement this plan”.

Strengthening an Accountable Governance that protects and Delivers Children’s Rights project

OCD is a planned and conscious process of change aimed at a durable strengthening of the organization. The process consists of a holistic analysis, targeted reforms/activities and evaluation of changes. The OCD support included areas of capacity specifically relating to the organization's identity, structure and systems. It covers areas of capacity that an organization needs in order to be strong in its own right, regardless of programmatic focus. These areas of capacity are generally considered to be; organizational structure, identity, strategies, stakeholder relations as well as systems for finance, governance, internal control, staffing and implementation.

The Sida CSOs result framework has 2 objectives; Government of Rwanda adopts changes in legislation, policies and practices in child rights as a result of CSOs and children advocacy and Child protection systems strengthened to prevent and respond to violence against children and operated in four districts across Rwanda.

Civil Society Organizations in Rwanda played a great role in creating space for discussions and participation in influencing legal reforms, policy-making and advocacy for change on matters that are still negatively affecting children in the past few years. Organisations have had key interventions for the organisation capacity development through the empowerment of children, staff, youth mentors and partners increasing their capacity that resulted into changes in attitudes, behaviors and practices among beneficiaries.