Citizens demand for special category of Ubudehe

Former Sharita Island resident Antoine Mukeshimana poses with his children at his new house at Rweru model village in Bugesera.

Citizens across the country have asked the government to introduce an additional category of Ubudehe social stratification in order to cater for people with special permanent needs, The New Times has learnt.   

Ubudehe programme is a socio-economic initiative where Rwandans are classification based on their economic status.

The programme, currently classified under four categories—from the first where the poorest members of society belong to the fourth where the wealthiest belong—helps the government to better align services to citizens.

Bob Gakire, the Director General of the Directorate of Territorial Administration and Good Governance at the Ministry of Local Government, told The New Times that the request was made during theongoing process to gather citizens’ views on Ubudehe categories.  

 “We have involved the locals every step of the way mostly because Ubudehe is about them. One of the requests that they have, for instance, made is adding a special category that gives specific attention to vulnerable people like the elderly and the severely disabled whose issues are permanent,” he said.

Preliminary results show that citizens also suggested that some people, for instance young orphans who are completely alone, could be temporarily placed in this ‘special’ category’ until they pursue their studies and are adult enough to graduate to another category.

Every three years, Ubudehe categories are updated in order to identify the best practices, challenges and gaps so that the necessary changes are made.

The first category is made up of 1.5 million Rwandans approximately 16 per cent of the population. It is composed of people with no means to own or rent their own homes and can hardly put food on the table.

The second category is made up of 3.1 million people, accounting for 29.8 per cent of the population. These have part time small jobs and either own cheap houses or are able to pay rent.

The third category, which has more people than the rest, is made up of around 5.8 million, and these don’t need help from the government for survival. They include farmers, professionals, and business owners.

The fourth category is made up of people deemed to be rich such as government officials from the level of director upwards, and large business owners.

More change requests

The citizens have also requested that a clear separation is made between Ubudehe and other government pro-poor programmes, including subsidies, Gakire said.

For instance, the locals requested that scholarships, shelter or other human security issues should not involve Ubudehe categories but should instead be based on common logic and need.

“Someone could be in category three but he has 11 children. They want to be able to sit and say that the scholarships on offer should go to his two gifted children so that they can continue their education yet he is not the poorest,” he added.

A survey conducted by Transparency International Rwanda revealed gaps associated with Ubudehe categories regarding directing social protection benefits to the right beneficiaries.

The survey conducted in May this year in 10 randomly selected districts indicated that 38.5 per cent of the respondents claimed that they had been assigned categories that excluded them from social benefits they should have been entitled to.

In contrast, 23.6 per cent of the respondents reported that they were assigned Ubudehe categories which provided them with social benefits they did not deserve because they were relatively well-off.

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