Despite the reducing budget allocation, the need to establish a competent social protection framework is important to government if the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are to be achieved.
Internationally, social protection measures are agreed to accelerate the achievement of economic growth and development. They are used to help many of the vulnerable poor people escape poverty and broadening domestic markets.
This is because social welfare appeals to equity and fosters peace and security arrangements. And, it offers the potential to offer long-term solutions to short terms crisis –for example, food security.
In Rwanda, social protection has played an important role in transferring resources to poor and vulnerable people; helping vulnerable families to access health care and education opportunities.
Government has been helped by the contribution of civil society and the donor community in helping Rwandans access health insurance schemes and education for children through public partnerships across the country.
The programmes are highly diverse, and aims to support a variety of groups in the country. Returnees and Refugees, genocide survivors, children and people with disabilities are among the beneficiaries. The Ministry of Local Government has been tasked to carry out welfare activities; these have taken the form of Ubudehe, PDL himo and education for school going children. The ministry of health is also executing Mutualle De Sante, a health insurance scheme while the education ministry is undertaking support for secondary students and helping HIV/Aids patients with access to intervention programmes.
However, government effort to put in place a competent social protection programme is hindered by lack of a coordinated approach to the policy. The absence of a shared objectives or an action plan among many government departments and ministries means that most calculations of social protection in the country are based on assumptions.
Although the World Bank has undertaken some studies which may prove to be more accurate, there’s little information about impact of programmes.
In summary, social protection has been the victim of an absence of both clear targets and public financial management measures.
But all is not lost; the government established the National Social Protection Strategy (late 2005) which gives a policy framework in which future action plans can be laid.
Currently the EDPRS aims to:
complement the national growth strategy by focusing on using social transfers for inclusion of the poorest and most vulnerable
directly addressing poverty and vulnerability of Rwandan citizens living in extreme circumstances
offer a measure of equity – improving prospects for peace and security
The institutional framework will benefit in future from clarity and co-ordination. But much analytical work remains to be completed to make these changes.
But, despite these challenges facing the sector, anecdotal information suggests that social protection has had a huge impact on the lives of vulnerable especially those living in abject poverty.
Local government authorities are currently identifying how People with Disabilities can engage in national and local government policy systems to achieve new livelihood opportunities that lead to greater independence and self-sufficiency.
Children of Genocide Survivor families have been helped to find new studying opportunities through Secondary and Tertiary education. The Faith-based Groups, NGOs and the Government are caring for significant numbers of HIV/AIDs orphans. New measures are being considered to enhance food security for subsistence-agricultural families in drought-prone areas.
The social protection report will further cater for;
The analysis and studies planned to provide a consistent picture of existing social transfers in the country.
The Rwandan road-map to growth will be enhanced by a clearly targeted social protection strategy
The most vulnerable of people can be systematically targeted for social transfers in future
Local Government is ready to assume the task of policy/strategy delivery
Government has many willing partners in funding and delivering a well-constructed strategy
Introducing a rigorous monitoring framework will allow the success of national policy / strategy to be measured and iterated over time
The Government may decide that the relatively generous funding (compared to some other countries) in the sector can be reallocated to better achieve its objectives
The cabinet approved the strategic plan for Social Protection in 2005; over the years the budget for social protection has accounted for a significant proportion of the national budget.
In 2003 it was 9.5 percent, this figure has risen to 10 percent and then falling to 7 by 2005.