Civil society urged to support SDGs agenda, embrace research

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Munyamaliza (L) speaks in Kigali yesterday. (T.Kisambira)

Civil society organisations have been called on to embrace evidence-based policies and devise new ways for funds mobilisation to support the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

The call was made on Tuesday during discussions between Rwanda Governance Board (RGB) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) officials on the one hand, and the representatives of Civil Society Organisations operating in Rwanda on the other.

At the meeting, UN and government officials briefed the representatives of civil society organisations about the SDGs and asked them to align their activities with the Global Goals.

The SDGs are composed of 17 goals that seek to end poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and tackle climate change in an inclusive approach.

The Global Goals, adopted by the UN General Assembly in December 2015, are a 15-year blueprint planned to have been achieved by 2030.

According to the World Bank, one in 10 people globally – the world population is estimated at 7.5 billion according to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) – is poor (living on less than $1.90 a day), while half of the extreme poor live in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Rwanda Governance Board (RGB)’s deputy chief executive Usta Kaitesi said that after the SDGs were adopted, there was need to consider the role of each player, adding that civil society has a big part to play in SDGs implementation.

Civil society should be the voice of the destitute but to be able to properly serve that role it has to get involved with data collection to enable evidence-based policy-making, she said.

She pointed out that civil society organisations were now involved with implementing the Girinka scheme (the One-Cow-Per-Poor-Family programme), one of the country’s social protection initiatives that seek to improve the livelihoods of the vulnerable, specifically uplifting them from poverty.

The UNDP’s Head of Governance Unit, Nadine Umutoni Rugwe, said civil society interventions should tackle the real problems affecting society, stressing the importance of accurate data in national development.

She called on civil society to help hold leaders accountable and influence decision-making.

“Civil society should contribute to data collection, monitoring and reporting on issues in the community to enable informed and evidence-based policy and decision-making,” she said.

Skills, funding gap

The Rwanda Civil Society Platform executive secretary, Silas Sinyigaya, underlined the need for capacity building for civil society organisations’ personnel in data gathering.

He said they will need support in that area because they are faced with skills challenges.

Meanwhile, Kaitesi observed that, while there is no particular funding allocated to SDGs, there is need for innovative ways to secure funds beyond the conventional approach.

“The civil society is encouraged to work with the private sector, social entrepreneurs and philanthropists who want to fund specific projects,” she said.

Civil society leaders at the meeting also cited insufficient funding as a key challenge in their work.

The chairman of the Rwanda Civil Society Platform, Eduard Munyamariza, said: “We cannot succeed if we do not have resources, and I would actually propose that we work on a joint funds mobilisation plan,” he said.

The in-charge of National Planning at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, Ariane Zingiro, said government has integrated SDG indicators in the national development initiatives for efficient implementation.

The ministry analysed all the 160 SDG indicators that were available as of December, 2015, to ensure proper implementation at the national level, he said. 

At least 23 per cent of them were fully reflected in the national development strategies, 31.9 per cent were partially reflected, 31.9 per cent not reflected, while 12 per cent were not applicable because they are being monitored at the global level.

From June to July, Zingiro said, the ministry will develop a proper communication strategy in order to avoid duplication.

She urged civil society to engage their respective line ministries and districts to avoid duplication of services.

About 150 civil society organisations were represented at the meeting.

Around 2,000 civil society organisations are operational in Rwanda, according to RGB figures.

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