A technical cooperation project involving the ministry of local government (Minaloc) and the UN’s Fooda and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has been launched to strengthen the impact of the VUP-Public Works program which aims to help vulnerable people overcome poverty.
The pilot program will cover Nyabihu, Rubavu, Rulindo and Gakenke districts in Western and Northern provinces.
“The FAO has partnered with the government to provide agricultural inputs such as seeds and fertilizers to increase the productivity of the vulnerable farmers,” explained Odette Uwamariya, the permanent secretary at Minaloc.
She said that under the new partnership, FOA and Minaloc will shift from the previous strategy of poverty reduction, in which direct support was given to beneficiaries, to providing required farming essentials to identified vulnerable people until they get out of poverty.
Uwamariya noted that focusing technical and financial support on selected beneficiaries is expected to accelerate poverty reduction more than thinly spreading direct support over many vulnerable people who remained in the same economic situation over the last five years.
“We shall do an evaluation after every three years to determine individual progress of the beneficiaries,” she added. “Those who will have gotten out of poverty will help others with their experience.”
She identified the Minaloc initiative dubbed “minimum package for graduation” pilot at the core of the new partnership with FAO as one within Minaloc flagship VUP- public works program.
Uwamariya said that under the new program, beneficiaries could also receive livestock, training and be linked to financial opportunities.
She also pointed out that in 2017, 94,000 households have benefitted from direct support, 111,000 from public works and 203,000 got cows through the Girinka program – close to the 350,000 projected by 2020 under the social protection program.
Attaher Maiga, the FAO representative in Rwanda, lauded the government’s efforts to reduce poverty.
“We all work together in the fight to eradicate poverty, and since 2000 Rwanda has reduced general poverty levels from 60% to 39% while extreme poverty stands today at 16% down from 40%. This is great work and shows efficiency and rare commitment to increased coherence between social protection and agriculture,” Maiga said.
He pledged more support to help reduce poverty, and stressed that emphasis will be put on groups vulnerable to poverty such as women and children.