By Joyce Chimbi
KIGALI, Mar 21 2023 (IPS)
Against a brutally painful historical backdrop, a story of hope and resilience unfolds in Rwanda.
A story that lays bare Rwanda’s innovative approaches to empowering her people, for an estimated half of the population still lives in poverty. In the 2022 Global Hunger Index, Rwanda ranked 102nd out of 121 countries with sufficient data to calculate last year’s global hunger index score.
Within this context, BRAC International signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Government of Rwanda under the Ministry of Local Government (MINALOC) to support efforts to empower people in extreme poverty to develop sustainable livelihoods and break the poverty trap long term. This is part of the Government’s broader efforts to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030.
“I am delighted to see the Government of Rwanda take a leadership role in addressing extreme poverty,” said Greg Chen, Managing Director of BRAC Ultra-Poor Graduation Initiative (UPGI), a flagship program at BRAC International.
The MoU was signed on Tuesday, March 14, 2023, by Jean Claude Muhire, Rwanda Program Director of BRAC UPGI, and Samuel Dusengiyumva, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Local Government.
BRAC International is a leading nonprofit organization with a mission to empower people and communities in poverty, illiteracy, disease, and social injustice, touching the lives of more than 100 million people in the last five decades. And now seeks to touch even more lives in the land of a thousand hills through this partnership.
“We are happy to serve as a partner in advancing the Government of Rwanda’s new National Strategy for Sustainable Graduation (NSSG) and to accelerate the reduction of poverty and extreme poverty,” said Muhire.
The MoU positions BRAC International as a key partner in advancing the Government of Rwanda’s new National Strategy for Sustainable Graduation (NSSG), recently approved by Cabinet in November 2022 to accelerate the reduction of poverty and extreme poverty in Rwanda and contribute to the achievement of the targets set out in the National Strategy for Transformation, 2017 to 2024.
“We are committed to combating extreme poverty by scaling the multifaceted, evidence-based Graduation approach through governments across Africa and Asia and reaching millions more people,” Chen said.
Similar to BRAC’s Graduation approach, which was established in Bangladesh in 2002, the NSSG defines Graduation as a two-year program for households to benefit from inclusive livelihood development programs, multifaceted interventions, access to shock-responsive social protection services, and market access that creates an enabling environment for households to “graduate” out of extreme poverty.
To date, BRAC’s Graduation program has reached more than 2.1 million people in Bangladesh alone and supported the expansion of Graduation in 16 additional countries, including Afghanistan, Egypt, Guinea, India, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Pakistan, Philippines, Rwanda, South Africa, South Sudan, Tanzania, Tunisia, Uganda, and Zambia.
Leveraging 20 years of experience implementing, testing, and iterating the Graduation approach, BRAC International is extending support in the design, delivery as well as evaluation of the Graduation program to Rwanda, supporting the Ministry of Local Government in critical areas.
Areas such as providing technical capacity and expertise in the implementation of the Graduation strategy and making available necessary communication, advocacy, and technical resources to ensure smooth implementation of the Graduation strategy.
Equally important, collaborating with the Ministry will ensure the scale-up of an inclusive, holistic Graduation strategy that includes all Graduation essentials. In all, efforts will focus on the four essential components identified as fundamental to implementing Graduation successfully.
These essential components include meeting participants’ day-to-day needs such as nutrition and healthcare, providing training and assets for income generation, financial literacy and savings support, and social empowerment through community engagement and life skills training – all facilitated through coaching that calls for regular interactions with participants. Rigorous research by Nobel Laureates Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo proves that the combination of support and resources provided through this multifaceted approach is critical for long-term impact.
Overall, the Graduation approach is grounded in the conviction that people living in vulnerable situations can be agents of change if they are empowered with the tools, skills, and hope they need to change their lives.
With such people-centred concerted efforts, it is only a matter of time before Rwanda is known for much more than its scenic beauty and as home to the cleanest city in Africa. It will also make history by defying all odds to become one of the first countries on the continent to establish a sustainable path out of extreme poverty by 2030.
IPS UN Bureau Report