Rural sector development essential to poverty reduction

The government phase aims to increase access to financial services in rural areas. Banks and microfinance institutions as well as community insurance services have increased in all parts of Rwanda.

The government phase aims to increase access to financial services in rural areas. Banks and microfinance institutions as well as community insurance services have increased in all parts of Rwanda.

This has been done with a combination of the public-private partnership and emphasis on widening the services of major banks so as more citizens can access financial and professional advice.

Improvements in infrastructure, where many roads have been constructed and others improved, ICT centres installed by connecting rural-urban network system to improve businesses, improvements in support of low cost energy such as solar and waste energy means have also been recorded, storage facilities of rural products have been getting substantial support, support to construction of market centres are also largely being pursued.

Agriculture sector is slowly but surely being transformed and modernised. Coffee washing centres have been improved to endure high quality produce, improved production of tea, improved ways of farming  through increased fertilizers and terracing on hill slope to protect soils and combating soil erosion has got substantive support, improving breeds amongst cattle and other animals, improvements in milk collecting centres, etc.

Private sector in all districts is improving. For instance, the levels of commerce and trade amongst private individual has improved, improvements in provision of soft  loans to private individuals, number of private entrepreneurs increased specifically in rural areas.

Challenges of decentralising services
Whilst the progress realised under the PRSP1 as was indicated under the district self evaluations, a number of challenges have confronted the PRSP two and its implementation.

Dominant of the challenges have been identified by the review process and the following observations can be made.

Continuous reforms in local government administration that has seen a lot of changes with less adoptability to the PRSP1 process. Most changes that occurred in districts did not help the PRSP1 to be conceived by such administrative levels at the lowest level of implementation.

Even though there was a monitoring and evaluation system (although not strong) at national or sectoral level, this system was not extended to the decentralised levels especially in the districts and yet most of the PRSP implementation interventions were carried out at the district level.

The districts self evaluation reviews identified this challenge as critical since PRSP annual reviews did not engage substantively the districts and provincial levels.
Lack of yardstick indicators was also the major challenge of the district evaluation effort.

Since, there was demarcation of new district boundaries; it was not easy to have the concrete basis of socioeconomic baseline date for the entire PRSP1 period on the annual basis. This posed a major challenge and districts could not exactly gauge out progress year by year since 2002 to 2005.

Another challenge realised while carrying out PRSP reviews at district level is lack of enough awareness by the local communities about the PRSP itself. Most people do not have enough knowledge about PRSP.

This is also one of the underpinning challenges of the PRSP implementation. Since communities that were supposed to ensure the implementation of PRSP did not have wider knowledge about the strategy, there was obviously no guarantee for such communities to ensure effective implementation and monitor the progress of PRSP1.
Capacity related challenges are also cited out under the PRSP1 and most especially its implementation.

Lack of enough human resource skills coupled with weak institutions in the decentralised levels contribute to the inefficiencies in the implementation of the programmes and projects prescribed under the PRSP.

The evaluation process itself at the district level is a challenge given the little time that was required to undertake as such comprehensive assessment covering the whole lifespan of PRSP.

This coupled with both human and institutional capacity weaknesses underestimated the efforts to carryout reviews and generate high quality district progress reports.

After comparing the district progress reviews of PRSP1 that were carried out in all districts country-wide, a common observation on the major challenges and recommendations emerged. The major recommendations forwarded include the following:

The need to enhance a wide campaign of creating enough awareness about EDPRS so that the challenge of limited publicity and information is solved, Rwandans need to be sensitised about the framework and importance of EDPRS. To adopt a quick intervention of carrying out surveys in all the districts to have the baseline and a more reliable data in place that can guide M&E process ahead.

It is important to quickly finalise the national, budgeting and monitoring and evaluation guidelines to give a permanent and quality direction to all districts developments.

To make sure the time of the EDPRS elaboration process is launched and conducted at the same time at both sector and decentralised levels.

To avail more support in the area of capacity building in the decentralised entities so that the stakeholders at such levels may have enough capacity to execute on the EDPRS. This can be done through undertaking trainings, building strong institutions, and equipping the districts with enough and updated infrastructure equipment.



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