Yashyizweho kuri 30 November, 2017 | 11:39

PAX PRESS holds national interactive workshop on VUP successes and its challenges

Reducing extreme poverty is one of the main objectives of the government of Rwanda. To tackle this major issue, the vision 2020 Umurenge Program (VUP) was launched in 2008. But the program comes with challenges and needs for improvements. The journalist network PAX PRESS conducted a national interactive workshop titled” Learning from VUP successes to boost positive changes for poor citizens” last week to talk with various stakeholders about the governmental program.

The dialogue gathered members of the media, civil society, development partners and government institutions and offered an opportunity to discuss and share findings from PAX PRESS’ community debates on the functioning of VUP beneficiaries. Furthermore, the workshop has been an occasion for participants to engage in identifying practical solutions to existing challenges in the implementation of VUP, as well as share recommendations to improve the situations of VUP beneficiaries. PAX PRESS organizes community debates on citizens’ concerns in rural communities all over the country. It annually puts forward the most prominent issue affecting people’s lives to discuss on national level with decision- makers.

In her opening remarks, Assumpta Ingabire, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Local Government, (MINALOC) complimented PAX PRESS for initiating a platform gathering policy makers and implementers, development partners and media practitioners to exchange on the implementation of government policies for the betterment of citizens’ lives. She reiterated the contribution of Vision 2020 Umurenge Programme in curbing extreme poverty (from 36.9% in 2010/2011 to 16.3% in 2013/2014 as per EICV) through direct cash transfers to the most vulnerable elderly people, public works to earn regular wages for rural people, easy access to loans for people with little income. More flexible public works (known as “expanded public works”) for households with caring responsibilities has been added to three VUP components as well as “Minimum Package for Graduation “to accelerate reduction of severe poverty. The Permanent Secretary of MINALOC lauded the media’s great contribution in exposing VUP underlying challenges so as to enable decision makers take appropriate measures.

To illustrate VUP achievements, a documentary film produced by PAX PRESS was launched not only to portray how VUP positively impacted beneficiaries’ lives, but also show challenges. In the latter case, delayed payments, reluctant access to “Financial Services” loans and the high interest rate (11%), the non-inclusiveness of vulnerable people like people living with disabilities and people with caring responsibilities in public works (pregnant and breastfeeding women) are among persisting issues.

Different beneficiaries benefited from this program

Jean Baptiste Ndikubwimana, the representative of People Living with Disabilities (PLWD) in Kinigi Sector, expressed the wish for VUP/ Public Works to be thoroughly inclusive and cater for people living with disabilities by incorporating a particular provision in VUP guidelines.

Roseline Nibagwire is a VUP beneficiary representative in Gakenke Sector, Gakenke District. She shared her experience on how she improved her daily life by stating that she managed to uplift from a small livestock with pics to a livestock with cows, built a shelter and bought a 300,000 RWF land plot from a 60,000 loan. She revealed to the audience that, she is now struggling to upgrade from Ubudehe Category One to Category Two.

Justine Gatsinzi is the- Division Manager of Social Protection within Local Administrative Development Entities Agency (LODA) and gave an overview on efforts of LODA and stakeholders to improve VUP services. He briefed participants on VUP sub-components of “Minimum Package for Graduation”, and “Expanded/Flexible Public Works”. He stated that LODA is committed to 100% timely payments to beneficiaries of “Direct Support” and “Public Works”. Justine Gatsinzi revealed that “Direct Support” services shall be extended to households with one person labor capacity and caring responsibilities (all this with effect from the forthcoming Financial Year 2018/2019).

Under VUP flagship, “Direct Support” services are currently operational in all 416 administrative Sectors, “Financial Services” in 270 Sectors, and “Public Works” in 244 Sectors. Moreover, the VUP sub-components of “Expanded Public Works” and “Minimum Package” have been introduced in 30 pilot Sectors.

Emmanuel Munyaneza

Tanga igitekerezo