The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) jointly partnered with the government of Rwanda through the Ministry of Local government and the Ministry of Agriculture to launch a technical cooperation project that intends to move more citizens from poverty in the country.
This project called ‘strengthening the impact to Rwanda’s VUP-Public works and beneficiaries graduate out of poverty’ will support the current Village Umurenge Program (VUP) public works by increasing the capacity building in eradicating poverty.
“The difference is that it is coming to support current initiatives we use to help vulnerable people especially to lift citizens from poverty like VUP,” Odette Uwamariya, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Local Government (MINALOC) said.
Uwamariya further noted that the specialty of this project is that it will help the government link the initiatives of VUP with agriculture sector which a large number of the population depend on.
The project will mainly focus on increasing seeds and fertilizers and more inputs beyond other projects that have so far helped beneficiaries to get small live stocks.
Beneficiaries of this project will also be professionally trained in agriculture services in the framework of increasing them the capacity.
“We believe that linking these initiatives of VUP-Public works with agriculture sector will help us tackle the challenge of malnutrition that is still an issue. It is not a big project but it is a good supplement that we believe will help us move citizens from poverty once its pilot phase in the Western and Northern Province’s districts is well achieved,” Uwamariya noted.
She recommended citizens to contribute their efforts in this project as it will be implemented at districts and sectors’ levels.
“We ask them to use properly any kind of support from this project so that they get good results. We have examples of citizens who successfully managed to save the VUP support and later invested in other big projects,” Uwamariya notes.
Uwamariya said that a big step was made since 2008 in the programs of eradicating poverty like in 2000, where poor citizens’ rate was at over 60 percent and today the poverty rate is at 39 percent and 16 percent of extreme poverty.
“We later revealed that the minimum package of support to one beneficiary at once will help him/her to move very fast from poverty. We already started the initiative called ‘minimum package for graduation’ as a pilot phase that is operating today in 30 sectors of the country and we are partnering with civil society organizations to implement the project,” noted Uwamariya.
She said that a follow up on the success of the project will be made after three years of its implementation.
“FAO currently partner with the government of Rwanda to promote agriculture and we believe that it will support citizens in their current activities,” Uwamariya said.
Avoiding embezzlement of funds
“It does not mean that we can give up supporting citizens because there have been some embezzlement of funds by local leaders which was dedicated to citizens before, we have taken tangible measures to avoid such mistakes,” Uwamariya said.
“We accept that this problem happened but it cannot prevent us to go ahead helping citizens,” she added.
She said that MINALOC has set up a technological electronic system at the ministerial and Local government Development Authority’s level to help them in following up the use of support.
Attaher Maiga, FAO Representative in Rwanda said that the project is about how to promote further articulation between social protection and agriculture.
“FAO has resolved that if we want to accelerate progress in elimination, eradication of poverty and food security, we need to take on all the contributing elements which means gender, youth and also social protection as this targets vulnerable segments of the population,” said Maiga.
The project will be piloted in the four districts of Western and Northern provinces which are Nyabihu, Gakenke, Rubavu and Rulindo.
Aspects of the projects
“This is in the process of profiling many districts by MINALOC because there is a minimum package of programs. So, we are thinking that choosing these districts we can see how to contribute in the profiling exercise of beneficiaries and see how agriculture interventions can be added to the minimum package. Another aspect is to promote nutrition sensitive in agriculture,” Maiga said.
“We are ready to work with this project as our district is currently doing agriculture and, we hope the project will benefit our citizens who currently do agriculture but lacking support. We believe that it will help us move our vulnerable citizens from poverty in a very fast manner,” Marie Grace Uwampayizina, the Vice Mayor in charge of social affairs in Rubavu District said.
Uwampayizina said that some of the challenges to move people out of poverty were like a vulnerable citizen could be given little money or one livestock that he could sell once he faces poverty.
She said however, that as a poor citizen gets a minimum package of support, he/she will be able to tackle poverty issues and save for the future than if he deals with only one kind of support.
The total budget of the project worth Rwf 286 million and it will last eighteen months, meaning at the end of May in 2018.
By Elias Hakizimana