Authorities in Eastern Province are set to investigate reports that some well-off residents have been benefiting from free food rations meant for the vulnerable in Nyagatare District.
The claims came up on Wednesday during activities to launch the Governance Month in Rwimiyaga town.
The free food scheme is a government programmme designed to support residents affected by prolonged drought.
Some 23,386 families receive food aid in Kayonza District (11,1421 households) whereas in Nyagatare, 20,121 people (96,123) households received the relief food.
Every Friday, a family of five households and above receives 21 kilogrammes of maize and 14 kilogrammes of beans, while a family of four households and below receives 14 kilogrammes of maize and seven kilogrammes of beans.
But Nyagatare residents told Governor Odette Uwamariya that there are some families that receive the rations yet they are well-off.
“Unscrupulous village chairpersons and cell executive secretaries reluctantly let well-off people to take food aid, leaving those who really deserve it with very little,” a resident said.
Governor Uwamariya promised to review the process of food distribution and to penalise local leaders who will be found to have abused the initiative.
“We are going to launch immediate investigation into the matter, make the distribution more transparent and ensure that those who are supposed to receive it are the ones that do. Whoever will be found responsible for the anomalies will be punished,” said Uwamariya.
The governor demanded examples of some well-off people who receive food aid but some who were cited were missing at the meeting, including some local leaders.
Uwamariya said there will be no excuse for any local leader implicated.
“The programme was designed to serve only the affected families who solely depend on farming. Those who have other means of providing food to their families shouldn’t be given food aid because that would mean deducting from those who really hard up,” the governor said.
Nyagatare and Kayonza districts are the most affected by the prolonged drought. In some sectors, fields yielded almost nothing, resulting into food shortages.
The Government intervened by distributing maize and beans to the worst affected households.
By the beginning of this year’s late agricultural season, the affected families will again be given seeds to plant so as to normalise the situation when they harvest in January.