Celebrating St Andrew's Day

Today, 30 November, is St Andrew’s Day which is the festival of Scotland’s patron saint. It is only right that on this day, we should come together to celebrate Scottish success, achievements and contributions to both the UK and the wider world.

Today, 30 November, is St Andrew’s Day which is the festival of Scotland’s patron saint. It is only right that on this day, we should come together to celebrate Scottish success, achievements and contributions to both the UK and the wider world.

The people of Scotland contribute to the work of the UK Government’s Department for International Development (DFID) in Rwanda. However, in addition to this work the devolved Scottish Government, through its own separate fund, has supported development projects in Rwanda since 2008 working collaboratively with other donors including DFID. Firstly working with Concern Worldwide and then latterly over the last five years with Tearfund who, through the formation of Self Help Groups, supported communities to save funds, improved financial literacy, increased access to financial services, diversified livelihoods and enhanced social cohesion.

The Scottish Government funded a Tearfund project in Rwanda called “Ending poverty One Village at a Time” between April 2012 and March 2017. The aim of the project was to empower communities to reduce poverty, hunger, disease and the impact of disasters.

The main achievements were as follows:

1. Up to 30,638 households of farmers were enabled to increase the quality and quantity of agricultural produce as a result of enhanced agricultural diversification and availability of effective extension services. 1,022 agricultural training sessions were conducted and 25,512 (82%) households were directly trained with the remaining 5,126 farmers being trained using a ‘training of trainers’ (TOT) approach. As a result, maize production increased from 90kg/HH to 464kg/HH[1] and yields of leguminous crops increased from 108kg/HH to 451kg/HH. In addition, the end of project survey found that the variety of home grown food increased significantly, increasing the variety of food eaten by the project participants and more families had food reserves to last them at least 5 months after harvest.

A total of 18,050 people (68% female) have been empowered to access financial services through training and participation in Self Help Groups (706 groups formed). The saving groups have formed 5 district level federations to act as a self-regulatory body responsible for providing strategic direction; advocating for review of unjust policies at district levels and for forming more savings groups. 88% of the end of project evaluation respondents reported they were actively engaged in income generating activities and 84% reported the increased use of financial services such as SACCO and banks. Household annual incomes have increased from 30,000RwF to 797,730RwF.

A total of 39,000 households have been directly supported with access to clean water through a variety of different methods (336 rainwater harvesting tanks, 148 protected community springs and 10 new public water points using the water gravity flow systems).

At least 86% of participants reported now having access to protected water within 1km of their home.

It is also estimated that an additional 4,793 households have indirectly benefitted from access to clean water through these interventions. They were not part of the target population but live in neighbouring villages and draw water using these new sources.

Improvements in sanitation systems and hygiene trainings have led to improved living conditions and health. 85% of end of project survey participants reported having covered latrines. Feedback from health workers suggested the number of hygiene related diseases significantly decreased as a result of improved hygiene practices such as hand washing.

Communities are better prepared to tackle the challenges of disasters through the development of disaster preparedness plans covering all 175 participating villages. 27,883 households have been reached and trained to respond to and mitigate potential disasters in their communities.

Up to 2 million trees have been planted and are helping communities reduce soil erosion, rehabilitate forests, protect water towers and increase rain catchment. Various other project initiatives have helped communities strengthen environmental protection. See the response to Q9 for more details.

In 2016 the Scottish Government undertook a wide ranging consultation on the future of its international development policy which included considering the countries Scotland would partner with in future. We consulted with civil society organisations and the Government of Rwanda in Kigali as well as the Rwanda High Commission to the UK and the British High Commission in Rwanda.

The new strategy published in December 2016 reduced the Scottish Government’s ID partner countries from seven to four, confirming that Rwanda would be one of those four key partners. Building on Scotland’s contemporary relationship with Rwanda cemented over the last 20 years we are committed to supporting and promoting activities between our two countries towards the achievement of the UN Global Goals.

That commitment is demonstrated by my recent announcement of seven new Scottish Government funded projects in Rwanda over the next 4.5 years totalling almost £9 million, which will make a real and lasting difference to communities. Projects include building capacity of coffee cooperatives, improving health and sanitation in communities and schools, as well as providing income generating initiatives for people with disabilities. Tearfund Scotland will deliver a project that will use renewable technology in Rwanda to help farmers adapt agricultural practices, increase productivity and respond to a changing climate.

In addition, the Scottish Government’s Small Grants Programme is designed to accommodate smaller funding requests for project, feasibility study and capacity building grants. In all of these projects large and small Scottish organisations work collaboratively with Rwandan partners.

We look forward to continuing to grow our links with Rwanda over the coming years.

Dr Alasdair Allan is Scottish Government Minister for International Development.

The views expressed in this article are of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The New Times.