Social protection allocated Rwf174bn to reduce poverty

The Chairperson of the parliamentary Standing Committee on Budget and Patrimony, Omar Munyaneza (left), speaks during a recent session as his deputy Francesca Tengera looks on. / Sam Ngendahimana

Parliamentarians have called for reinforced monitoring and evaluation of the Rwf174.3 billion budget allocated to social protection in the fiscal year 2019/2020 for it to achieve its objective of lifting people out of poverty.

They made the request on Thursday as Parliament passed the law determining the state finances with the national budget amounting to over Rwf2.87 trillion for the next fiscal year which begins on July 1.

The move comes as Rwanda targets to reduce poverty among households by five per cent within the next two years, according to information from Local Administrative Entities Development Agency (LODA) – an institution under the Ministry of Local Government, which is responsible for implementing local economic and community development polices and strategies, social protection and poverty reduction programs.

The fifth Households Living Conditions Survey (EICV5) released by the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda in December last year indicated that between 2013/2014 and 2016/2017, poverty rate at national level slightly dropped from 39.1 per cent to 38.2 per cent.

These statistics reflect a poverty reduction of less than one percent, which is smaller compared to 5.8 percent drop registered in the 2010/2011 and 2013/2014 when it declined from 44.9 percent to 39.1 percent.

Prof. Omar Munyaneza, MP and Chairperson of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on National Budget and Patrimony, said the committee wants combined efforts in the execution of the national budget which has been drawn up based on the ideas of everyone, including citizens who expressed the needs they want the budget to respond to.

“Moving forward, we need to closely follow up on the implementation of the development projects which have been allocated money from the budget. And, we hope that for them to achieve intended targets to speed up the economic transformation as well as improve the livelihoods of people, they have to be well managed,” he said.

MP Damien Nyabyenda said that it was commendable that the government had given attention to supporting the needy.

“There should be monitoring and evaluation for this support so that the beneficiaries who are the vulnerable people move a step forward, and get out of poverty,” he said.

What the social protection financing will do

The social protection funding is expected to be used for various purposes including to increase the number of needy people who benefit from public works under Vision Umurenge Programme – one of the social protection initiatives – with a target to reach about 200,000 households.

It will also provide direct support – monthly stipend - to more than 106,000 needy people who are too old to work or have other weaknesses such that they cannot carry out public works.

To fast-track poverty alleviation, it will scale up the provision wide-range support to the most poor households with a goal to lift the beneficiaries from poverty in a specific timeframe, whereby the beneficiaries of this type of intervention will increase from 20,161 families in 150 sectors to 175,180 families from 260 sectors.

Under this initiative dubbed “Minimum Package for Graduation,” each beneficiary is given a cow and small farm animals such as goats, sheep or chicken, worth Rwf80,000.

Claudine Uwera, the Minister of State for Economic Planning, said there are many programmes meant to improve the welfare of people and cited the Vision Umurenge Programme (VUP), tackling stunting among children; as well as One-Cow-Per-Poor-Family (Girinka)programme.

Under VUP, she said, some beneficiaries will get direct support, but others will carry out some public works for which they are paid, at the same time contribute to the country’s development.

“These are programmes that impact people’s lives. They are intended to provide support to the needy in a way that they will get rid of poverty and reach a level where they are self-reliant,” she said.

At the end of March 2019, in line with the objective to increase access to social security and income support programmes, over 137,000 households from 244 sectors benefited from VUP public works program while more than 107,00 eligible households received direct support, according to information from the Ministry of Finance and economic Planning.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com