Speaker Mukabalisa makes case for MPs’ month-long countrywide tour

MPs on Wednesday started a month-long outreach tour across the country to assess development programmes in line with poverty eradication. (File)

For the country to realise the 2020 target to reduce poverty among Rwandans to 30 per cent, and significantly tackle stunting among children, there is need to make more concerted efforts by everyone involved Speaker Donatille Mukabalisa has said.

The Speaker made the call during an exclusive interview with The New Times on Tuesday, ahead of the countrywide month-long outreach tour by Members of Parliament to assess development programmes in line with poverty eradication.

The exercise that started Wednesday will run through February 15, and it will evaluate diverse development initiatives across the country, starting from Eastern Province.

Explaining the rationale behind this outreach tour, the chamber of deputies said through a press release that some socio-economic transformation programmes are not meeting the expected targets as desired.

Citing the recent findings from the fifth Integrated Household Living Conditions Survey (EICV5) released by the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda in December 2018, parliament said it is the first time the country registered lower poverty reduction rate of 0.9 percent – in the last three years.

Figures from the report show poverty slightly decreased from 39.1 percent in 2014/2015 to 38.2 percent in 2016/2017.

Comparatively, poverty had gone down from 58.9 percent in 2000/2001 to 56.7 percent in 2005/2006, to 44.9 percent in 2010/2011.

With the current slow progress, Mukabalisa said, it seems the country cannot attain its vision 2020 anti-poverty goal.

“There was a minimal decline in poverty over the last three years, we need to know, by talking to concerned people, exactly what happened so that we come up with evidence that can well inform police and decision makers so that we are able to expedite poverty reduction,” Mukabalisa said.

Given that stunting among Rwanda’s children is at 37.9 percent as the 2018 figures from the Ministry of Health show, Mukabalisa said that the MPs will find out the contributing factors to rampant stunting cases in order to help devise effective strategies to tackle the issue.

Rwanda targets to reduce stunting to 18 percent by 2018, according to the Ministry of Health, but, such it revised back such target to29.9 per cent by 2020.

“Stunting among children should be addressed from the early stage because when it goes beyond two years of age, it is irreversible and it negatively affects the child’s growth and education performance,” she said observing that the early childhood programme will be evaluated to establish how it is lessening such a burden.

“If it is the issue of mindset, people should be taught how to nourish their children with nutritious food; if it is the issue of lack of enough food, measures should be taken to produce the required food,” she said.

Trading or business centres, which are among the activities to be evaluated, were considered to contribute to community progress as the variety of jobs and projects being carried out there are among the drivers of growth and make people get out of poverty. 

The centres have business activities, markets that facilitate economic exchange between people, financial institutions facilitating their access to loans and making savings, and business enabling infrastructures. 

Mukabalisa said they will also assess Business Development Centre (BDF) to see whether it is accomplishing its objectives to help people especially the youth and women to acquire finances for business growth through guarantee subsidies, and business skills for progress.