Rwanda’s social protection efforts received a boost yesterday following access to $ 95 million (about Rwf77 billion) International Development Assistance credit from the World Bank.
The credit agreement was signed, yesterday, by Finance and Economic Planning Minister Claver Gatete and World Bank country manager Yasser El Gammal.
The budgetary support will go toward strengthening tools to improve the management and service delivery of social protection programmes.
These include the social protection Management Information System (MIS) and the Ubudehe household registry classification system.
The funds are also aimed at improving the harmonisation and efficiency of the Vision Umurenge Programme (VUP) which provides cash for work, income support and financial services to poor households.
The credit will also support harmonisation across social protection initiatives, notably income-generation programmes and child-sensitive policies, with a target of long-term graduation from poverty and social assistance.
Commenting on the use of the credit facility, El Gammal said the development is a culmination of a three year budget support programme that was started a few years ago by the Government along with other development partners.
Other than supporting the enhancement of the systems, by developing a Social Protection Management Information system and strengthening the efficiency of the programme, the official said the Bank would support the accountability of the system by supporting to put up a complaints and appeals mechanisms by the citizens.
“Our partnership in social protection is one of the oldest. Rwanda is one of the leading countries in the world in social protection and in seeing a graduation of its citizens,” El Gammal said.
WB’s confidence in Rwanda
He said based on the country’s administration of the support in recent years, the Bank looks forward to having another phase of support in the next fiscal year.
The recent support brings the World Bank’s total financing to $260 million in the last three years.
Minister Gatete said the support, which is in form of a concessional loan, comes at an interest of 0.75 per cent with a grace period of 10 years and repayable within 40 years.
“It allows us to repay with no problems and at the same time help our own people to graduate from poverty,” he said, adding that the current social protection programmes are tailored to the country’s situation to ensure that as many people as possible can graduate from poverty and ensure sustainability.
“We want to eradicate extreme poverty by 2020. By the end of 2014, we saw that we still had 16.3 per cent of our people in extreme poverty and we want to bring that figure (of extreme poverty) to zero by 2020,” Gatete said.
The minister said the Government was also rolling out a number of measures to ensure that those who graduate do not fall back into poverty.
Among them were improvement of agriculture practices and initiatives such as crop intensification and land consolidation to boost food security and post-harvest initiatives such as East African Commodities Exchange, where farmers can borrow money with their produce as security.
He said there have been efforts to increase financial inclusion through Saccos, which, in turn, open avenues for farmers and others who graduate to be able to access credit facilities for investment and other purposes.
The Government has also rolled out initiatives such as the National Employment Programme to further reduce poverty.
Dr Alivera Mukabaramba, state minister for social affairs and social protection, said they were also promoting savings culture among citizens to ensure sustainability of those who graduate from poverty.
The fourth Integrated Household Living Conditions Survey, released last year, showed that poverty reduced to 39 per cent down from 44 per cent as indicated in the previous survey.