Payment delays leave VUP beneficiaries more vulnerable

Residents of Rutunga in Gasabo District build a new road under the VUP programme. File.

Beneficiaries of Vision Umurenge Programme (VUP) don’t get timely payments of their wages for the public works that they are involved in the community, which holds back their progress.

The revelation is contained in the Baseline Survey on Citizens’ Participation in the Management of VUP-PW projects, which was released by Transparency International Rwanda.

The programme, which started in 2008, is one of the community-based poverty reduction strategies geared towards creating employment opportunities for the jobless rural folks.

The beneficiaries are engaged, for a short period, in community projects like road repairs among other income generating activities.

The programme targets vulnerable groups such as women, youth and persons with disabilities as well as widows and orphans.

They work five hours per day. However, the elderly work for two hours only.

Moreover, the survey by Transparency International Rwanda revealed that despite public works guidelines, which emphasise that payments be made every 10 days, beneficiaries spend months without getting any payment.

The little wages, according to Transparency, is meant to cater for the beneficiaries’ basic daily needs but it takes months before they are paid, leaving them more vulnerable.

Presenting the findings, Apollinaire Mupiganyi, TI Rwanda Executive Director, said delays were attributed to bureaucracy in procedures between submission of the request for funds to the districts and the reimbursement of those funds for the payment of beneficiaries.

None from respondents said to have received payment on time, according to the survey, with only 25 per cent having replied to have received payment once in a fortnight.

The findings revealed that 12 per cent of the beneficiaries said they were paid once in three months, 24 per cent said they get their payments once in two months, while 35 per cent get paid once in a month.

Two per cent said they are paid once in six months, the survey revealed.

Mupiganyi said the list of public workers in VUP are filled manually, taken to the sector officers who also take it to the district for verification before they go to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning where payment is processed.

“There is need to reduce some bureaucracies, the money should be deposited directly to the beneficiaries’ account open in SACCOs instead of using old ways, delays in payment derails social economic development of beneficiaries,” said Mupiganyi

Besides delayed payment, the survey cited other challenges such as high membership and construction of Rwf5000 and Rwf7000 respectively, which it says should either be waived or reduced.

Beneficiaries also decried long working hours while the elderly said they walked long distances to work.

According to the report beneficiaries said that while the money they get help them live improved lives compared to before, the delays in payment leave them in more problems as well.

According to Desiré Ndababonye, the Director of Social Protection in Gakenke District, the delays are due to the small number of employees in social protection department but there are measures in place to address the issue.

“We agreed with LODA that starting next year there will be someone in charge of daily registration, enter data in computer to ease the process unlike currently when everything is made manually, with this we will make sure the payment is made as soon as possible,” he added

According to Marie Immaculée Ingabire, the Chairperson of TI Rwanda, there shouldn’t be any justification for the delay because the money is actually allocated in national budget and should hence be disbursed on time.

The survey was conducted in eight districts namely Gakenke, Musanze, Gatsibo, Kirehe, Nyamasheke, Rubavu, Nyanza, and Ruhango.