From 2008 to date, the Government of Rwanda, through the Local Administrative Entities Development Agency (LODA) and in collaboration with decentralized entities and different development partners, has been gradually implementing the Vision 2020 Umurenge Programme (VUP), as one of strategies to relieve citizens from poverty. VUP was introduced to cater for the livelihoods of the most vulnerable households (generally classified in lower Ubudehe categories) by offering direct cash transfers, public works and access to affordable loans to gear up income generating activities.
From 22nd March to 6th April 2021, a team composed of LODA delegates and Digital Creations Ltd representatives met with different VUP beneficiaries across the four provinces and the City of Kigali in order to get their views on how effective is the programme, its impact on their living conditions, existing challenges and ways of improvement. This field visit was primarily intended to survey into VUP public communications, but it also offered an opportunity to collect a set of testimonies which are much inspiring.
Mr. MBONYEMBYOMBI Dominique is resident of Nturo Village, Nyarubuye Cell, Musanze Sector, Musanze District, and he belongs to VUP component of known as Classic Public Works. “Before joining the VUP programme, I didn’t have any livestock, but today I own a cow that I got from VUP. I didn’t have a toilet but today I have one. I am proud of these achievements thanks to VUP”, he said. His counterpart, Mrs. UWIMANA Esperance, inhabitant of Cyanturo Village, Garuka Cell, Musanze Sector, has worked in the VUP programme for the last four years. “I was classified into Ubudehe Category 1 and I was having a miserable life. I was first selected as Direct Support beneficiary but was later recruited for VUP Classic Public Works given I had some children with ability to work. Since then I managed to buy clothes, a comfortable bed and a mattress made in Uganda, and now I stay in a sheet roofed house thanks to VUP earnings”.
Mr. KABAMBA Innocent is resident of Kamembe Village, Bugeshi Cell, Mukamira Sector, Nyabihu. He lives with disability but has made tremendous achievements from VUP Direct Support. “I am a beneficiary of VUP Direct Support. I and my spouse live with disability. I purchase seeds for my agricultural activities thanks to the Government support in cash, and I also buy food stuff on a daily basis. […]. As an MTN agent I provide Mobile Money and M2U services, and hence I can sustain my family basic needs”.
Proud of her achievements thanks to VUP Financial Services, Mrs. NYIRANKUNDUMUKIZA Christine, resident of Kirerema Cell, Kanzenze Sector, Rubavu, started a small business. “I got a VUP 100,000 Frw loan since 20th November 2020. Thanks to this loan I started running a business of selling charcoal, and since then I can easily get food stuff for my family and my children are well nourished, and I can get their school materials as well. I easily afforded to pay some manpower to help me lift up charcoal sacks. I have so far paid back half of the loan. I started this business with only 10 sacks of charcoal and now I have reached up to 15 sacks”, she testifies. Her neighbour NYIRAMPONGO Anna Maria considerably improved her household living conditions. “I got a VUP loan and bought sheep as livestock. I then landscaped a kitchen garden thanks to which I fought malnutrition in my households and I make vegetable sales. I started paying back the loan without difficulty”, she said.
At TVET Hindiro, Ngororero District, the team met fresh graduates of the VUP Skills Development component. They expressed their heartfelt acknowledgments towards the Government of Rwanda, its agencies and development partners. They testified having got practical knowledge which shall enable them improve their economic life standing. “I have acquired practical skills in leather craft from TVET Hindiro in a 3 month training programme. Now I am able to repair shoes, design and even craft them up. I can make different types of products (sandals, hand bags, etc.) from leather”, reveals NYIRANDIKUMANA Clarisse, resident of Muhororo Village, Gatare Cell, Hindiro Sector. NSHIMIYIMANA Jean Louis, her neighbour from Buyongo Village said: “I have completed training in food processing. I can now process yoghourt, pasteurized milk, and different types of cakes. As of now I produce cakes and supply them to groceries from which I get some money as benefit”.
VUP is implemented under three major components including the Safety Net Component[comprised of Direct Support (operational in 416 Sectors), Classic Public Works (operational in 300 Sectors), Expanded Public Works (operational in 300 Sectors), Nutrition Sensitive Direct Support (operational in 259 Sectors)], the Livelihood Development Component [composed of Asset Transfers (operational in 187 Sectors), Skills Development (operational in 30 districts but not in all Sectors) and Financial Services (operational in 300 Sectors)], as well as the Sensitization and Community Mobilization Component. As of December 2020, the Government of Rwanda had injected 43,280,611,548 Frw into the Safety Net Component plus the Financial Services part.
In light of the above testimonies, it is clear that efforts invested in social protection programmes especially VUP, are making positive impact towards the eradication from extreme poverty (by 2024 as per the National Strategy for Transformation/NST1). The latest Integrated Household Living Survey (EICV5) indicated that extreme poverty prevails at a rate of 16%. The farewell journey to the poorest living conditions is unreservedly supported by commitment from both the Government and VUP programme beneficiaries.