RICH ‘s vision is ensuring a Healthy Nation in which Religious-Based Organizations are united for health and peace. It is towards that vision that on this 28th June 2018 in Marriott Hotel, Kigali , RICH organized a religious advocacy meeting to support Early Childhood Development and Family program (ECD&F) through community-based initiatives including messaging.
This advocacy meeting gathered key stakeholders on ECD such as Government Ministries (MIGEPROF, MINALOC, MoH, MINEDUC), NECDP, National and International Organizations working in areas of ECD&F, High level Religious Leaders Members of RICH Board Of Directors and Religious leaders known as ECD Focal Persons from Project’s targeted communities.
Through the project known as“ Rwanda Interfaith Response to promote ECD Program”, RICH works with religious leaders in their respective communities to promote ECD&F program through various intervention including:
• ECD messaging through Community Dialogue for change in behavior, attitudes, practices and social norms(C4D);
• Mainstreaming ECD messages through preaching and teaching and use of other religious network to reach out the targeted communities, and
• Upgrading existing religious Community Initiatives to provide integrated ECD services at denominational levels.
During this meeting, Dr Anitha Asiimwe, the National Coordinator of the National Early Childhood Development Program (NECDP) called for greater involvement of religious denominations to achieve the National Goals including to accelerate stunting reduction from 38% to 19% by 2024 in Rwanda.
Mr Ted Maly, UNICEF ‘ country representative recalled the journey made to promote Early Childhood Development ( ECD) from global to national experience. He highlighted UNICEF ‘s commitment to support ECD by presenting some key achievements in this sector and planned activities such as those which will be done in partnership with religious denomination through RICH, the Rwanda Interfaith Council on Health.
Other interventions made during this advocacy meeting recalled the urgency and importance of providing integrative ECD services in Rwanda. As the religious leaders have the ability to reach a very high number of Rwandans, they were encouraged for proper use of their networks for ECD messaging. The religious leader were also encouraged to raise awareness of the importance of care to children from their conception to 5 years of age as this period is critical for the child’s plenary development.