Civil society joins govt in fight against poverty

L-R: Régis Umugiraneza (RYAF), Albert Nzamukwereka (DFID), Jane Abatoni (ARCT Ruhuka), and Alex Nkurunziza (Rwanda Religious Platform) discuss the partnership between govt, CSOs and the private sector at Lemigo Hotel in Kigali on Friday. Michel Nkurunziza.

At least 120 projects worth over Rwf3 billion are currently being implemented by Rwanda Civil Societies Organizations (CSOs) on behalf of the government, an official from Rwanda Governance Board has said.

Jean Paul Rwabuyonza, the Coordinator of the projects under Strengthening Civil Societies Organizations Programme at Rwanda Governance Board (RGB) told Sunday Times that civil societies were given grants by the government and One UN Rwanda since 2014 to implement some projects on behalf of the government.

The move is part of homegrown solutions for sustainable funding to local civil societies in order to transform lives of vulnerable people, he said.

“In 2014, we selected 45 viable projects out of over 100 proposals of which implementation started in 2016. 75 out of 182 proposals in 2017 are currently being implemented before we select others. We provide grants of Rwf25 million to each project for implementation,” he said.

Rwabuyonza said the projects are related to social protection and public health, cooperative development, youth, employment and promotion of culture, environmentalprotection climate resilience, citizen participation, accountability and service delivery and activities supporting extension services in agriculture and livestock.

They also include capacity building and institutional support, civic education and voter’s education, legal aid, human rights and gender, family cohesion, child protection, anti-SGBV and child abuse.

The move was presented during consultative dialogues that brought together Rwanda Governance Board (RGB), civil society’s organizations, private sector federation, UN Rwanda and UNDP to discuss the role of civil societies in National Development Agenda in the next five years.

“Civil societies reach community corners where central government cannot reach and therefore they are needed in development agenda. That is why we give them grants through competitive process implement projects with impact on behalf of government. We will get time to evaluate if they are doing it well. The new law also allows them to run businesses to ensure sustainable funding flows,” he mentioned.

Jane Abatoni, the head of Rwanda Association in Trauma Counselling (ARCT Ruhuka) said: “We need better management, better financial structures and leadership to ensure our sustainability. We foreign donations might stop one day, we need to sit together and discuss initiatives for fundraising within the country for long-term programmes.”

She added that there is need of experts to advise NGOs on how to start businesses in a bid towards sustainability of delivering to community projects alleviating poverty.

Alex Nkurunziza, the Executive Secretary of Rwanda Religious Platform said :“Civil societies must always be represented when government is setting up national policies and priorities and should be part of implementation,” he said.

Régis Umugiraneza, the head of agro-processing cluster at Rwanda Youth in Agri-business Forum (RYAFI) argued that partnership between private sector and civil society’s organizations must be strengthened to shape financial flows.

“Under the partnership, the money private sector spend in social responsibilities activities can also be channeled through civil societies and implement the projects on behalf of us,” he said

Albert Nzamukwereka, governance advisor at the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) said: “Civil societies can charge services they offer and be paid. The client becomes government where if institutions need to carry out research, consultancy services can hire civil societies depending on the sector such as agriculture among others.”

Only 15 per cent of national budget is currently foreign aid. We need to leverage our own solutions in case foreign aid decreases, he said

It was concluded that civil societies boost their contribution to national policy formulation, implementation of some government programmes and monitoring

It was again recommended that civil societies also start doing profitable businesses as allowed by the new law so as to ensure sustainable funding and deliver on long term projects instead of waiting for unpromising foreign donations.

Other recommendations include strong partnership between government, private sector and civil society’s organizations in developing new fundraising initiatives such as raising seed money through membership and contributions, marketing civil society’s services.




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