Vision 2020 Umurenge Programme: Direct financial support to change lives of the extremely poor

BY GODFREY NTAGUNGIRA The Ministry of Local Government and Good Governance (MINALOC) developed a program ‘Vision 2020 Umurenge’ to fast track attainment of Vision 2020 objectives.

BY GODFREY NTAGUNGIRA

The Ministry of Local Government and Good Governance (MINALOC) developed a program ‘Vision 2020 Umurenge’ to fast track attainment of Vision 2020 objectives.

The strategy is being implemented in 30 poorest sectors selected in all the provinces.

All local leaders were tasked to select what they consider the poorest sectors in their respective districts.

The programme is intended to break the vicious cycle of poverty that holds sway in some sectors.

Objectives

1.Vision 2020 Umurenge programme (VUP) targets to increase the well being of all citizens, as described n vision 2020 document, based around achievements of high level performance targets beginning with growth and poverty reduction.

2. Through Direct Support Component, MINALOC expects to improve access to social services that has been incorporated into the VUP. The support is directed towards interventions such as provisions for landless households (abatindi Nyakujya) or expansion of health and education coverage.

3. The support will target people’s productive capacities such as the creation of off-farm employment opportunities thereby facilitating the eventual transition of rural societies into modern knowledge-based communities in tandem with the larger Vision 2020.

4. It also expected to accelerate the process of monetization and formalization and long-term sustainability of the economy.

5. The support will allow redirecting social protection to the neediest people who are landless and unable to attain formal employment thereby rationalizing and improving the effectiveness of social protection programs, along the social protection strategy.

6.Reports from the ministry of local government reveals that funds for Direct support first phrase has been transferred from the Ministry of Local government bank accounts to the districts after making sure that every beneficiary has opened a bank account where their money will be deposited.

The Vision Umurenge Programme for the first six months is worth Rwf. 2,743,750.00

VUP includes direct supports to improve access to social services or to provide for landless households with no members qualifying for public works or credit packages; such unconditional supports seek to expand health and education coverage as well as to encourage the development of ‘appropriate’ skills such as undertaking training in handicrafts production or social service activities.

The mission
To contribute to the reduction of extreme poverty levels from the current 36.5% in the year 2005/2006 to 24.2 % by the year 2012.

This will be undertaken through ensuring that economic growth is pro-poor in the 1st EDPRS flagship programme and that the majority of the population are improving their  living standards.

The objectives of direct support operational framework and procedures are in two types namely within the protective and productive components.

Protective Components
This will instigate changes in the efficiency of poverty reduction coordination through ensuring the interconnectedness of services and change attitudes.

The component will fill expenditure deficits while being focused on stopping households from falling below agreed survival levels through building  a buffer to help households manage future shocks.

Productive components
1. This component will reduce risks and encourage risk taking by making transfers predictable, forming a base for developing savings and taking credits.

2. It will also provide a financial and training base upon which to build resilience live hoods to those with the will and capacities.

3. This component will seek to develop an entrepreneurial culture by bridging very poor households into the market economy and help to monetise the local economy through building social cohesion by giving marginalised poor people a meaningful productive role.
 
Expected outcomes
Consistent with the assessment for achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the objectives of Rwanda Vision 2020 the program started with 30 Imirenge (out of 416 in the country).It initially targets a population of about 16,389 people  out of 6,850 selected households.
The component targets people’s productive capacities that will have at least three additional benefits.

1. First, it will allow for creating off-farm employment opportunities, thereby facilitating the eventual transition to a modern knowledge-based society according to Rwanda Vision 2020.

2. Second, it will allow the acceleration of the process of monetization and formalization of the economy, thereby ensuring long-term sustainability.

3. Third, it will allow redirecting social protection to the neediest people who are landless and unable to work, thereby rationalizing and improving the effectiveness of social protection programs, along the social protection strategy.

Approach
1. The direct support is meant to satisfy the basic needs in life and the beneficiaries are encouraged to save so that after the period of six months, they can have some income generating projects.

2. After a period of six months evaluation is done and local people once more determines the next group to benefit from the support.

3. The VUP features as a flagship program under the Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS) covering the budget years 2008 to 2012. As such, the VUP seeks to instigate changes in the efficiency of poverty reduction.

4. This will require managing change in three related areas. First, it will assist local governments to coordinate the implementation of national sector ministries’ strategies. Second, it will instil the notion of interconnectedness of services across sector ministries.

Third, it will change attitudes through pro-active interventions of all sector ministries to accelerate the rate of poverty reduction in Rwanda.

5. Success will be defined specifically in relation to both key achievements in the start-up pilot phase and the capacity of local governments to carry out the program components in a decentralized fashion. Households to benefit were identified using the Ubudehe process, subject to general public scrutiny at Umudugudu level and supported by Umurenge staff.

Execution
•  Every day every head per household will be made to account  for Rwf.250
•  Second household head will be allotted Rwf.150 at the rate at 60% of Head of Household.
•  Each other member of household will be allotted maximum of 40% of Head of Household.
•  The maximum direct assistance per household is worth Rwf.700.
• The transfer amount will be received every six months.
Direct financial support will be disbursed every month at the beginning of the six months period through bank accounts

Selection and approval
The Umudugudu Committee makes recommendations on the provision of direct support to individual households. These recommendations will be reviewed by the Umudugudu Council.

Eventual approval in-kind transfers or cash transfers will be made by the Umurenge Council and notified to the District Council. This final decision will be made by the VUP Management Team in consideration of the pool of in-kind resources and funds available.

Savings and credit
Saving is voluntary. Incentives to savings are being considered giving an example of Imihigo or marching funds after six months which will depend on resource availability.

Households will possibly have access to modest amounts of credit when they qualify and it is available.

Direct support will be awarded for a period of six months and then reviewed during which time households will access training and sensitisation and possibly small amounts of credit when they qualify and it is available at the time of the half year review.

Households who will have graduated will be removed from the list and those not able to graduate will have to be moved to undertake public works will also be removed from the list.

Households who do not have capacity to graduate or move to public works will remain on the list for the next period. Such households will remain on the list indefinitely if they require long term assistance.

For those who have the capacity to take advantage of training and sensitisation but who have not made any effort to do so may be removed from the list. Any new households meeting the programme criteria will be added to the list.

Cash or in kind
1. The value of the aid must be equal to the value the household would have received over a 6 months period.

2. Payments in kind cannot be used as an attempt to control the expenditure of a particular household. Grossing up will be at the direction of the Ubudehe committee and will without exception be communicated in advance to the VUP programme management team.

3. All extremely poor households identified as eligible will receive direct support and there will be rotation of eligible direct support going to the households.

4. At the Umurenge level the percentage of funding for direct support will vary depending on eligible household numbers and Umurenge budget allocations.

5.The landless unable to work become the prime targets for direct supports whereas the ‘above poor’ who engage specifically in activities that create jobs for others will also be targeted with specific entrepreneurial credit packages to allow them to become responsible employers for the benefit of the community.

6. Direct support to improve access will be targeted at social services or to provide for landless households with no members qualifying for public works or credit packages.

Such unconditional supports seek to expand health and education coverage as well as to encourage the development of ‘appropriate’ skills such as handicraft production or other social service activities.

 Rwanda donor partners have expressed their interest in the VUP whereby DFID have pledged to inject US$20million which will run from 2009 2013.

Ends

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