Southern Province: Poverty alleviation to take lion’s share of budget

Farmers sow seeds in Nyamagabe District, Southern Province last year. Governor Emmanuel Gasana said that increase in poverty necessitates the provincial authorities to step in and reverse the trend. Courtesy.

The budget for districts in Southern Province is expected to increase from Rwf113 billion in the current financial year to Rwf123 billion in the next fiscal year (2019/2020).

According to provincial governor Emmanuel Gasana, the Rwf10bn increase is meant to help fight poverty.

The fifth Households Living Conditions Survey (EICV5) released in December last year indicated that between 2013 and 2017, poverty in Southern Province went up from 38.4 to 41.1 per cent.

Gasana said that the increase in poverty in the region necessitated the provincial authorities to intervene and reverse the growing trend.

He was speaking on Monday during 2019/2020 budget consultation between the provincial leaders together with those of the districts and the parliamentary Standing Committee of National Budget and Patrimony.

Southern Province has eight districts, namely Kamonyi, Ruhango, Muhanga, Nyanza, Huye, Gisagara, Nyaruguru, and Nyamagabe.

Gasana said that the province has about 2.8 million residents.

Saidi Sibomana, the Deputy Director General at Local Administrative Entities Development Agency (LODA), said that under the budget framework paper, government proposed an increase of Rwf21 billion for development budget for districts.

Out of this additional funding, Sibomana said that 70 per cent will be allocated to Southern and Western provinces which have higher poverty levels in the country.

He said the two provinces account for 70 per cent of the poorest districts in the country.

He cited Nyamagabe, Kamonyi, Gisagara (in South), Rusizi, Nyamasheke and Nyabihu (in West) among districts where poverty rose.

At the national level, the poverty levels during the period under review under EICV5, poverty levels slightly dropped to 38.2 per cent, from 39.1 per cent.

MP Iphigénie Mukandera said budgetary appropriations must be in line with reducing poverty levels, saying that even at the national level, the one per cent drop was still dismal, going by previous trends.

“I would like to see from this budget framework, concrete plans in line with tackling this, problem,” she said

Sibomana said that the Government’s target is to reduce poverty by five per cent within the next two years.

“The allocation for more funds to districts’ development budget is meant to increase jobs, and provide small livestock such as chicken and rabbits to the neediest families so they reduce malnutrition,” he said.

“In addition, seeds and fertilisers will be given to those who have farmland, while other funds will go towards supporting children from needy families through school, among others,” he said.

Gender equity

Governor Gasana said that in 2019/2020 his province will promote gender equity across development projects.

“The Southern Province districts planned 94 projects with a budget of Rwf22 billion, which will benefit about 85,000 men and 112,000 women,” he told the legislators.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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