BY GEORGE KAGAME
Social protection is a crucial element of the government’s strategy to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Internationally, social protection is among the targets set by the UN, as a yardstick for achieving MDGs in developing countries.
Through EDPRS, government will broaden domestic markets. This will appeal to private equity and fosters peace and security arrangements. It will also offer the potential to provide long-term solutions to short terms crisis –for example, food security. In
It is not just government that has been active in implementing social protection, but civil society and the donor community also programme social transfer activities.
The current range of programmes is highly diverse and aims to support a variety of groups in the country.
Amongst the recipients of social transfers are returnees and refugees, genocide survivors, children and people with disabilities. The main “home” for the government’s social protection programme is the Local government ministry (Minaloc), but programmes are also executed by the Health ministry (Minasante) (Mutuelle de Sante), Education ministry [Support for secondary school fees] and HIV/Aids programmes.
However, the absence of high level objectives or an action plan means that most calculations of social protection in the country are based on enlightened “guestimates”.
[Although the World Bank has undertaken some studies which may prove to be more accurate]. We have surprising little information about impact of programmes – although this remains to be explored more thoroughly.
The National Social Protection Strategy (late 2005) now gives a policy framework in which future action plans can be laid. While considerable further work remains to be completed, targets for the future EDPRS should aim to complement the national growth strategy by focusing on using social transfers for inclusion of the poorest and most vulnerable
Directly addressing poverty and vulnerability of Rwandan citizens living in extreme circumstances offer a measure of equity – improving prospects for peace and security.
The greatest implementation challenge to social protection has been its lack of national policy [until the end of the PRSP1 period], strategic action plan, consolidated budget and monitoring framework.
In summary, social protection has been the victim of an absence of both clear targets and public financial management measures. The institutional framework will benefit in future from clarity and co-ordination. But much analytical work remains to be completed to make these changes.
Despite these challenges facing the sector, anecdotal information suggests that social protection has had a huge impact on the lives of vulnerable people living in poverty.
People with disabilities are now in the process of identifying how they will engage with national and local government policy systems to achieve new livelihood opportunities that lead to greater independence and self-sufficiency.
Children of genocide survivor families have been able to find new opportunities through secondary and tertiary education. The Faith-based Groups, NGOs and the Government are caring for significant numbers of HIV/Aids orphans. New measures are being considered to enhance food security for subsistence-agricultural families in drought-prone areas.
The key measures from the report are:
The analysis and studies planned will provide a consistent picture of existing social transfers in the country. This, in turn will allow further evidence-based planning to be accomplished.
The Rwandan road-map to growth will be enhanced by a clearly targeted social protection strategy.
The most vulnerable of people can be systematically targeted for social transfers in future
Local Government is ready to assume the task of policy/strategy delivery
Government has many willing partners in funding and delivering a well-constructed strategy
Introducing a rigorous monitoring framework will allow the success of national policy / strategy to be measured and iterated over time.
The Government may decide that the relatively generous funding (compared to some other countries) in the sector can be reallocated to better achieve its objectives
What can be done through the EDPRS?
The priorities for the Social Protection Sector are to:
Create the means for greater equity and enhanced political and social stability
Include greater numbers of citizens in the process towards economic growth
This will be achieved by:
Providing an adequate evidence base to define objectives for the next five years
Reforming the institutions to achieve effective delivery & monitoring
Redirecting resources as appropriate
Working closely with local government and across national government
Creating the means by which Government can implement partnerships with other providers.