The government has rolled out a new initiative through which it seeks to give vulnerable people an extra push out of poverty.
Dubbed “Minimum Package for Graduation,” the initiative is being undertaken by the Ministry of Local Government and Social Affairs (MINALOC) in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRI) to achieve sustainable graduation from poverty.
It consists of wide-range support with a goal to uplift beneficiaries from poverty in a specific timeframe.
In an interview with The New Times on Thursday, Justin Gatsinzi, Deputy Director General of Social Protection at Local Administrative Entities Development Agency (LODA), said that the initiative will comprise of, among other interventions, giving each beneficiary a cow and small livestock.
For the latter, the beneficiary will get either three goats, or three sheep or chicken, worth Rwf 80,000. For those who choose piggery, each will get one pig.
The three-year pilot study for the scheme is operational in 30 sectors, whereby each of the 30 districts of the county has one beneficiary sector.
Under the pilot plan, Gatsinzi said, 19,889 vulnerable people are expected to benefit from the interventions, with about Rwf3 billion to be spent on the livestock that will be distributed.
Last financial year, Rwf681 million was spent for the purpose, while over Rwf1 billion was allocated to the current financial year.
Gatsinzi said the vulnerable will also get health insurance cover as a cushion against health shocks.
The new assistance, he said, will not replace the previous help the vulnerable were getting, including the direct support either through VUP or FARG, the subsistence allowance from the Rwanda Demobilisation and Reintegration Commission (RDRC) as well as public work remunerations.
Other interventions, Gatsinzi said, include helping the vulnerable benefit from access to finance through local savings and credit cooperatives (Umurenge SACCOs), linking them to markets for their agricultural and livestock produce as well as capacity building in doing business and savings, through training.
Rationale of the initiative
Gatsinzi said that eight years since Vision Umurenge Programme (VUP) was introduced, some of the lessons learned was that it should be matched with the objectives of Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS II) and the National Social Protection Strategy, which seek to lead beneficiaries to self-reliance.
“The lessons that were learnt are that the direct support, the wages of those who carry out public works, can only help the beneficiaries meet basic needs but cannot help them achieve sustainable graduation from poverty,” he said.
“It, therefore, requires that they get a comprehensive support at once so that they get rid of poverty faster. That is the essence of minimum package,” he said.
Ensuring success of the programme
Gatsinzi said that mobilisation and skills empowerment will also be catered for under the initiative.
“We are preparing the beneficiaries to be self-reliant, and to achieve this goal, they should have relevant skills. A person who will develop through tomato growing, will need skills in that area, the same applies to animal husbandry, tailoring and carpentry, among others,” he said.
In addition, he said, proximity advisory services will be provided to the beneficiaries on a case by case basis, whereby between 30 to 50 beneficiaries will be helped by one worker or advisor to offer them varied advisory services such as in nutrition, hygiene, savings, agri-business, and ensuring education of their children.
Commenting on social protection programmes during a plenary on the linkages between agriculture and social protection at Parliament last week, MP Athanasie Nyiragwaneza said beneficiaries of those programmes should commit to performance contracts (Imihigo) on making the most of the support they get and the institutions in charge of the implementation of those programmes should monitor the process.
Gatsinzi said that the beneficiaries are signing performance contracts (Imihigo) entailing how they will get out of poverty and what they will do to achieve the target.
“Their advisors also sign contracts on how they will help them upgrade their socio-economic status and we will systematically track the implementation,” he said.
Why partner with MINAGRI
The Minister for Agriculture and Animal Resources, Dr Gerardine Mukeshimana, said that, under this initiative, they want to ensure that beneficiaries save some of the money they get, such as through public works, to buy fertilisers in order to increase their produce. She said the beneficiaries will benefit from fertiliser and livestock subsidies.
Figures from LODA indicated that between 2009 and 2016, over Rwf43.4 billion was granted under direct support to 338,970 households, while over Rwf38.9 billion was given in wages to 704,307 workers under the public works.
Over 250,000 households got cows through the Girinka programme while the target is 350,000 households by 2017.
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