The Vice President for Human Development at the World Bank Group, Annette Dixon, has commended the Government of Rwanda for its Vision 2020 Umurenge Programme, commonly known as VUP.
VUP is a social protection programme that targets vulnerable families through direct support and income-generating “public works”.
She was speaking on Monday in Munyiginya Sector, Rwamagana District on her visit to witness how the programme works.
VUP, which is supported by World Bank, includes public works, direct support and expanded flexible public works, all of which target vulnerable citizens.
In public works, vulnerable family members are given jobs for income that improves their families’ lives, while “expanded flexible public works” involves light work for two hours a day; targeting mainly the elderly citizens and those with disabilities.
The direct support programme involves financial support to vulnerable families who have no physical ability to do productive work. Besides the cash, they are facilitated to get livestock and other services.
Dixon said it was only during her visit that she was able to see how important VUP is for vulnerable families in Rwanda.
“I have been able to observe that VUP is working for people in different situations, helping poor people who can work,” she said, adding that the public works undertaken under the programme are “very important for the community.”
When she visited Munyiginya Sector, she found dozens of residents working on a road in the area. All residents in the area are beneficiaries of VUP programme.
She commended the Government for being “so innovative by designing a scheme that takes care of the specific needs of people in different situations.”
“And I would like to congratulate you, the beneficiaries, because the work you are doing of maintaining this road will ensure that all farmers can take their goods to the market, that the kids can get to school, and that you can connect to other services,” she declared.
She said that the programme is important for the country mostly due to the fact that the families use the money from the programme to invest in their children’s education.
Jeanne Nyiransabimana, a beneficiary of the expanded public works programme for one year and five months, said that before she joined VUP, she lived in abject poverty.
“Previously, I could not even meet the most basic need of buying soap let alone having medical insurance for my children. Now I have all these and my children are going to school. I am now a happy woman at home because I am progressing,” she said.
She said she has two children in high school and has since built herself a home, where she has a kitchen garden from where she grows vegetables.
Jean-Claude Biziyaremye, who is disabled, is a beneficiary of direct support; he has three children that he has been able to fend for due to VUP support.
His children go to school, he said, and there would be no hope had it not been the direct support.
The Minister of State for Social Affairs, Dr Alvera Mukabaramba, thanked the World Bank for its partnership with Rwanda that started back in 1963 in different areas.
The Bank has supported VUP since 2008 when it was first launched as one of the key components of a countrywide social protection programme, she said.
Mukabaramba also said the evolution of VUP has made the programme more responsive to gender and children care dimensions, as well as respond to vulnerability associated with disability through expanded flexible public works.