BY GODFREY NTAGUNGIRA
In a concerted effort to boost the workings of EDPRS framework, Oxfam Great Britain joins the government of Rwanda in its developmental programmes. In 2008, based on the EDPRS framework Oxfam Great Britain-Rwanda Programme developed its new five year National Change Strategy (2008-2013).This programme’s key thrust is within Peace Consolidation and Livelihoods improvement in Post Genocide Rwanda.
Development of the EDPRS was a participatory process that involved all key actors and multilateral and bilateral donors are all committed to supporting its implementation. Oxfam programmes are aligned to the Government policy which prefers aid through general budget support. This preference is well emphasized in the Aid Policy document, and is endorsed by all multilateral and bilateral donor organizations.
The incidence of poverty is much higher in rural areas (66%) than in urban areas (12% in Kigali and 19% in other towns). Inequality runs deep. The richest 10% of the population hold approximately 50% of the national wealth compared with 50% of the population sharing just 10% of remaining wealth. The population is predominately rural ― about 80% and young with over 50% under 25 years.
With financial support from Oxfam Ireland, the Oxfam GB – Rwanda programme, in 2008-2009 focuses its efforts on developing a livelihoods strategy for the targeted groups enumerated above based on the livelihoods situation survey that was conducted from October 2008 to February 2009.
The focus is on boosting a localized cooperative framework as a means to promote income generation. Peace consolidation-related activities will also be mainstreamed into this project. The end result will be that in areas of Oxfam interventions both poor women and men and needy groups such as widows, orphans and People Living with HIV and AIDS (PLWHA) will have improved their livelihoods through increased access to markets.
Four thematic areas namely Sustainable Livelihoods, Good Governance, Gender Equity and HIV and AIDS prevention have been identified under this project.
Sustainable livelihood as the flagship of the programme
Transferring necessary technical skills to local farmers grouped under cooperatives will enable the linking of farmers to key actors in markets and policy influencers.
Oxfam has identified pineapple and mushroom growing as part of its product strategic intervention component. While the pineapple commodity targets the rural poor, the mushroom commodity targets mainly poor women (most of them being widows) in rural and peri-urban areas of Kigali City.
The two products will further undergo more detailed market analysis and business plan development to ensure viability in the long term.
The cluster of good governance will have more focus on conflict management training of local mediators and both local administration which will also target leaders of the cooperative movement. It will seek to encourage active community participation in decision-making and development work through Community Based Organizations (CBOs), and strengthening of civil society engagement. The aim is for citizens to participate actively in their development and manage conflicts in a manner that supports sustainable development.
Good Governance also aims at improving or promoting increased gender integration into decision-making organs not only at national level but also grassroots as well.
Rwanda has a high female population (53%), of whom sizeable proportions are widows and/or single women.
Nearly one-third, (32.1%), of Rwandan households are headed by women. In terms of poverty gender disparities, 62% of female-headed households lie below the poverty line compared to 54% of male-headed households.
Oxfam gender work focuses on improving gender relations so that women are not excluded from having access to, and control over, opportunities, resources and decision-making on socio-economic, political, personal, and family levels.
Some local Partners like ARDHO (Association Rwandaise pour La Defense des Droits de l’Homme) have been identified and more others will be identified to strengthen Gender Clubs within academic institutions to fight against any gender-based violence while targeting gender awareness.
In addition, Oxfam GB Rwanda wants to build on the lobbying and advocacy work already started for the women in DRC-Goma by Mary Robinson and Oxfam. This is for the purposes of keeping up the momentum and link with Women leaders in the region to materialize “the role of women in the peace building within the Great Lakes region” by facilitating exchange visits for lessons learnt between DRC and Rwanda.
Mainstreaming HIV and AIDS prevention
Through this programme Oxfam aims at increasing the economic empowerment of People Living with HIV and AIDS. It will also increase the knowledge and awareness on the spread and impact of HIV and AIDS among our targeted population (both partners and beneficiaries).
Humanitarian preparedness work will be done in collaboration with other Oxfam International affiliates in Rwanda. Working with UNHCR and Rwanda Disaster Management Unit (a multi sectoral and inter-agency unit for monitoring the humanitarian situation in Rwanda), Oxfam GB will jointly, with other Oxfam affiliates, develop a contingency plan, with the aim of strengthening its capacity to monitor the onset of any oncoming humanitarian crisis, and to respond in a coordinated way, quickly, effectively, and appropriately.
While more specific advocacy issues will be identified in each of the programme thematic areas as things evolve, at regional level, Oxfam GB-Rwanda wants to constantly engage with other Oxfam affiliates to identify key advocacy issues globally affecting poor and vulnerable citizens of the Great Lakes countries namely, DRC, Burundi and Rwanda and Uganda.
This project will build on gains and learning made on community conflict resolution through peace building and development activities.
Summary of expected outcomes of the project
1. Increased collective power through strengthened civil society that advocates on communities’ behalf on serious issues affecting or impacting on them.
2. Strong private sector linkages and adoption of appropriate technologies.
3. Better access to markets, market information, market intelligence, market support and development and other such services as affordable credit, technology, skills and other opportunities for increased productivity, production and quality.
4. Cross cutting issues of conflict management, gender, disaster and risk reduction, HIV and AIDS mainstreamed in livelihoods.
Strategies to implement the project developmental items
The project focuses on ‘participatory’ approach as the overall strategy in all interventions. This will include the following:
1. Technical Capacity Building of Cooperatives:
This will be fostered through training and transfer of necessary skills to members of cooperatives to develop work models by focusing on few commodity value chains as well as equipping them with skills to develop fundable business plans. Focus will be centred on equipping them with basic marketing skills and analytical skills to interpret correctly market information to enable them to be more competitive.
2. Organisational Development of Cooperatives:
This will be undertaken through sensitization and trainings and through promoting enlargement of the cooperative membership. Participatory and democratic approaches within cooperative will also be boosted. Training in cooperative leadership and grant management will be undertaken.
3. Networking and Linkages:
The programme will continue and increase the networking capacities with key Government institutions working on the thematic areas of Oxfam interventions by integrating them into steer committees on the thematic focus areas of Oxfam activities. Networking with both public and private institutions will also enable Oxfam to develop a good approach to manage the Grant-Loan system.
The grant-loan or revolving funds system is a new way being encouraged into the programmes to support poor people. It seeks to teach the targeted groups to become self-reliant in the long run by engaging them into economic activities with a clear pay back to the revolving fund at low interest rates.
Finally networking will allow Oxfam to transfer more responsibilities (80%) to local partners for the project implementation. The networking will also facilitate the lobbying, advocacy and fundraising work.