The Inshuti z’Umuryango: The Volunteers Helping Keep Children Safe in Rwanda (Programme Brief)

UNICEF, Rwanda National Child Development Agency

The Government of Rwanda (GoR) is committed to ensuring that all children achieve their full potential in a safe and protective environment. A key element of this commitment is the ‘Inshuti z’Umuryango’ (IZU) or ‘Friends of the Family’ programme. IZU are a cadre of para-professional volunteers who are selected by residents in every village (one male and one female) based on their good reputation. They usually work as a pair in supporting children and families and are responsible for assisting in the protection of children from neglect, violence, abuse, and exploitation. The IZU programme was initiated in 2016 as an innovative approach to decentralising the child protection workforce to community-level, and the cadre now comprises the frontline of Rwanda’s child protection system. 

This brief outlines the background to, rationale for, and objectives of the IZU programme, the phased operationalization of the cadre, brief key results achieved by the cadre thus far (explored in more detail in the IZU Results Brief) in relation to Rwanda’s wider child protection strategy, and challenges and lessons learned during the operationalization of the cadre. 

The brief is based upon a review of relevant policy and programme documentation, complemented by interviews with a range of programme stakeholders conducted during a 2021 rapid capacity and gap analysis of the IZU cadre. 


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