World Bank commits $60m to support refugees in Rwanda

Minister for Finance and Economic Planning Uzziel Ndagijimana, and World Bank Vice President for Africa Region, Hefez Ghanem, sign the agreement in Kigali yesterday. / Craish Bahizi

The government and the World Bank Group yesterday signed a US$60m (Rfw54bn) agreement that will help finance projects aimed at improving access to basic services and economic opportunities for refugees and host communities and support environmental management, in the six districts that host refugee camps.

The funds will be used to finance a project that is spread across four components which are access to basic services and socio-economic investments, economic opportunity, environmental management and project management involving 136,000 refugees and up to two million Rwandans within and around the camps.

The refugees in rwanda are spread across six camps in the districts of Gicumbi, Gatsibo, Kiziba, Nyamagabe, Gisagara and Kirehe.

Besides Kirehe, which hosts Burundians, the other districts host refugees from Democratic Republic of Congo.

Particularly, the project will upgrade schools, health centres, roads, market facilities and water and sanitation facilities in the host communities around camps.

At the signing ceremony yesterday, the Minister for Emergency Management and Refugee Affairs, Germaine Kamayirese said that the government was doing a lot to help the refugees adding that the funds will play an instrumental role in dealing with several issues including food shortage.

“These funds will help refugees to develop themselves. They need to be in school and they need health care services; so do the host communities around the camps.

“There is therefore need to increase the number of schools and health posts if everyone is to be accommodated. Humanitarian aid has significantly reduced and that’s why the government sought this loan,” she said.

The Minister of Finance; Uzziel Ndagijimana said that since 2016, government has made commitments to move towards greater fulfilment of rights, socio-economic opportunities and inclusion of refugees.

The first step, he said, was to develop a comprehensive refugee support framework that outlines a holistic approach which will bring benefits to both host communities and refugees and we have developed a strategic plan for implementation.

“This commitment is about ensuring identity cards for refugees, including them into our education system, provide access to national health insurance and to empower them in terms of employment and economic activities. This support will really help in addressing these challenges,” he said.

The World Bank Vice President for Africa Region; Hafez Ghanem called the project a ‘win-win’ opportunity for both refugees and the host communities saying that it will ease the strain on basic services.

“This project will lighten the burden of hosting refugees on the government by fixing environmental degradation and easing the strain of basic services that can be caused by hosting refugees,” he said.

Of the $60m, $25m is a grant and $35m is an International Development Association (IDA) loan that is scheduled to be paid back in 38 years including a grace period of six years at an interest rate of 0.75 percent.

More $71m sunk into agriculture

At the same ceremony, the government and the World Bank signed a $71m grant to support the process of transforming the agriculture sector to address challenges of leveraging private sector investment.

Minister Ndagijimana said that the funds will go a long way in ensuring sustainability.

“The agriculture sector is the backbone of the economy and it is of critical importance to many livelihoods. This financial support is therefore critical in transforming the sector and ensuring sustainability especially in the rural sector and,” he said.

The financing is in addition to the US$100m signed in June last year.

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