The classification of all Rwandans depending on their economic standing was launched at the grassroots level across the country, yesterday, with some local leaders seeking from residents data about their standard of living.
The revised ‘Ubudehe’, as the social stratification is locally known, comprises four categories named in their numbers instead of calling people names that describe their economic standing as was the case in previous classification.
Depending on whether one owns a home, rents a house, has a job, or owns a business, there are different factors that influence the classification.
The first category is for those without a residential house or are unable to rent, hardly able to get food and other domestic necessities.
The second includes those with a residential house or are able to rent one but rarely get full time work, and eat one or two meals a day.
The third category includes people who are employed or are employers. It also includes farmers who produce enough for food at home and get surplus to sell to markets or those with small and medium enterprises.
The fourth category comprises big business owners, people working in international organisations, industries or any other company, public servants, owners of malls, trucks, among others.
At the launch of the review of Ubudehe in Gakenke District, the Minister for Local Government and Social Affairs, Francis Kaboneka, urged all Rwandans to tell the truth about their economic standing as well as in the way they describe their neighbours’ living standards.
The minister said derogatory names for the categories such as Abahanya, Abatindi, Abatindi, Nyakujya, among others, have been removed from the new categories because they didn’t reflect well on a dignified people.
“Today, we are launching the second phase to review Ubudehe categories to make them clear and help accelerate development. In the former categories, there were names which undermined Rwandans and people had stigma of belonging in those categories,” Kaboneka said.
He added that the review process will take three months and should be based on in implementing the 2015-16 Budget.
The review of Ubudehe social stratification was first piloted in districts in August and the successful classification in Nyarugenge, Gisagara, Rulindo, Nyagatare and Rutsiro paved way for the launching of the classification in the entire country yesterday.
“As Rwandans you should uphold the truth and integrity during the review for it to help us keep the momentum towards poverty eradication,” Kaboneka added.
The former Ubudehe categorisation was used to deliver public services such as helping the poor through social protection programmes such as Vision 2020 Umurenge Programme (VUP) and in deciding which university students should be on government bursary.
The new Ubudehe categories were designed by officials at the Local Administrative Entities Development Agency (Loda) and handed to the Ministry of Local Government.
The Director-General of Loda, Laetitia Nkunda, said that the classification based on people’s perceptions in the villages is not a waste of time because it gives crucial information needed for planning.
“Ubudehe is a planning tool but it shouldn’t be the only criterion for delivering public services. It (Ubudehe) is a kind of preliminary data which can be based on to do deeper analysis,” she told The New Times last year.
During the launch of Ubudehe review in different parts of the country, yesterday, local officials who were trained on the new categorisation demonstrated to the people how the exercise will be conducted.
At the end of the demonstration in Rwamaya area in Kicukiro District in Kigali, some residents had already started to put themselves into categories.
“I think I fall in the second category because I own a house and I eat twice a day,” said Jean de Dieu Nkuriyekurasa, a father of three who is a subsistence farmer.
His neighbour, Yvonne Nyiracumi, said that she expected to be placed in the first category because her family hardly gets enough to eat.
Some local leaders and residents in Gakenke District said that the review was overdue and will help in working hard to graduate to higher categories in the future.
“This new system is better than the previous one; people, especially the poor, used to face stigma due to the names given to the categories to which they belonged,” said 45-year-old Triphinie Nyirarwibuko.
“Since the new categories are only in numbers, I am ready to accept the category I will fall in and I will work hard to move to the next one in the near future.”
Nkunda said that people’s categorisation in Ubudehe will be updated every three years.