Social protection advanced, but some are still not reached
Though Rwanda’s programs meant to sustain the social protection have led the country to make notable progress towards many of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) including the eradication of extreme poverty, yet some facts on the ground indicate that more efforts are required to meet the targets.
Lucie Kwihangana, a mother of one and a resident of Mwendo cell in Kigali sector of Nyarugenge district lives in a three-roomed house with other 6 members of her mother-in-law’s family. Kwihangana’s family depends on aid because they could not be self-reliant though the family is still in its genesis.
“I and my husband struggled to set up a small one-roomed house, but local authorities demolished it under pretext that it was not meeting all requirements,” she laments. “Since we could not afford to rent a house, we forcibly opted to occupy one room of my mother-in-law’s house.”
Yet she is unhappy to share the same house with her mother-in-law under reasons that it can easily crate familial clashes.
Though the neighborhood makes part of rural area of the city, yet setting up a house requires a construction permit – which Kwihangana says they can’t afford it.
“How can you get such an amount for construction amount while you can’t even feed yourself?” wonders Kwihangana.
Actually Kwihangana doesn’t depend on others for housing only, but also almost on everything. At least her husband does sometimes generate revenues from welding activities – through which he can get about Frw 30,000 per month – but the family remains unable to sustain itself.
Apparently the bride woman looks energetic able to do agricultural activity to sustain her family like a large category of Rwandans survives, yet they don’t possess any portion of land. She says they recently get a portion of land estimated to be around 30m out of 40m from her mother-in-law on which she can now do some agricultural activities, though the land remains too insufficient to feed the family.
“I really get everything from my husband, yet we struggle to survive,” she says, adding that they do not even have any other generating income such as a domestic animal.
Actually Kwihangana is not the only one survive hardly in the neighborhood, but also many others. Bazarama, 60, Kwihangana’s neighbor also suffers alike. The old woman and her husband battle to survive an old house on which stones are put on the iron sheets so that the wind can’t take them away.
The old house which serves the couple at the same time as a kitchen and a residence was even given to them for free as they could not get anywhere to stay.
Bazarama and her husband, now in their 60s, still stay in other people’s house while they have to work in other’s fields to get Frw 700 per day for their survival.
“We stay in such a struggle life because we do not have any other place to go,” she says.
Vision 2020 Umurenge Program
The two families live a poor life despite different programs such as Vision 2020 Umurenge Program (VUP) established to support social protection in line with eradicating poverty – mainly targeting vulnerable families. Neither Kwihangana nor Bazarama has ever got support from the program even though VUP operates in their sector.
Despite the reality reflected by the duo, recent surveys released early this year indicated that extreme poverty at the national level had fallen to 24.1 percent in 2010/11, a drop of 11.7 percentage points from 2005/6.
An official in the area recognizes the issue, though they are quick to say that they are on their good way towards achieving the targets.
“You can’t assert that the poverty has been eradicated 100%, but the struggle is still on to provide vulnerable families with support depending on their categories,” explains Aimable Munyaneza, the secretary executive of Kigali sector.
The official explains that they have been providing some of the vulnerable families with opportunities of public works – earning Frw 12,000 per day – for those who can work while old people who can’t do any public work are given direct support in cash. Those who can also run small business generating income are also provided with easy access to finance, he mentioned.
He for instance says that about 60 households got direct support last year while about 790 got access to public works. In the same time, Frw 8 million were spent financing small businesses while they plan to finance others worth Frw 30 million starting next Wednesday.
The VUP is among other programs meant to reduce poverty such as one cow-per-family program and ubudehe. But the official observes that there are some of the beneficiaries who do not take advantage of the programs.
“We urge them to make a notable progress within a year, but there are those who never make any improvement; thus hindering the progress,” he commented.
Despite the plans, it could also be questionable to anyone to wonder whether so far the needy beneficiaries are really included in the program. But officials say that the selection of the beneficiaries is made by local people themselves to ensure transparency.
Pierre Kalisa, the vice mayor in charge of social affairs in Nyarugenge district, explains they even give chance to claim for those who are unhappy with categories in which they are classified.
“After establishing the lists of the beneficiaries basing on their means, we let them claim and correct some probable errors and then we send the final list to Minaloc which is in charge of the programs,” pointed out Kalisa.