Kigali, 22nd September, 2021 - To strengthen citizen engagement and support livelihoods and income-generation in rural areas, Rwanda launched the $5.73 million Advancing Citizen Engagement Project, together with the World Bank, the Government of Japan, Spark Microgrants, and Comic Relief.
The project aims to support small businesses to improve livelihoods for around 76,000 people— half of whom will be women— across 249 rural poor villages through small grants. The project will also provide training and support to government officials at the national and local level on how to engage citizens in local development planning. Working in partnership with the Ministry of Local Government, this practical experience will be turned into a national framework on participatory village planning, in support of the Government’s decentralization agenda.
Claudine Marie Solange Nyinawagaga, Director General of the Local Administrative Entities Development Agency (LODA), said “The government of Rwanda is committed to strengthening decentralization and empowering citizens. This project will enhance our platforms for participation at the local level, and improve the way local and national government authorities lead development planning at the village level by involving and empowering all Rwandese.”
By strengthening communication between government and community members, the project also generates welfare benefits through increased uptake of government development programs by the rural poor. “Citizen engagement is critical to strengthening grassroots participation and sustainable rural livelihoods in Rwanda,” said World Bank Country Manager, Rolande Pryce. “The support this project will provide to local businesses will also help people in the rural districts to recover from the impacts of COVID-19.”
The project will be implemented in Burera, Gakenke, Gicumbi, and Huye Districts, where Spark Microgrants, the implementing agency, will work hand-in-hand with local government offices to implement the project. Each village will benefit from support to plan for and implement community-selected projects. District Governments themselves will contribute 5% of the funds for every small village grant.
The project is funded by a $2.73 million grant from the World Bank’s Japan Social Development Fund (JSDF), which seeks to empower poor and vulnerable groups not reached by other programs and improve their lives through direct benefits.
Charity Projects, which operates under the name of Comic Relief, will also provide complementary funding of $3 million to Spark to support the project, and will channel the entire JSDF grant to Spark Microgrants, a non-governmental organization that has been operating in Rwanda since 2010. Spark Microgrants, which is presently working in 135 villages across the country, will implement the project in two of Rwanda’s five provinces (Northern and Southern provinces) where it has a successful track record of implementing community-based development programs with local governments. It will hold weekly meetings with villages, supporting the identification of livelihoods projects, and build villagers’ capacity for procurement, banking, saving and record-keeping.