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A safety net for Rwandans

In 2008, the Rwandan government launched Vision 2020 Umurenge Programme (VUP), a comprehensive social protection scheme that offers a safety net programme with unconditional cash transfers to the poorest, and public works projects for households with labour capacity.

Project Social protection support to the poorest, Rwanda

Client UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office

ExpertiseTechnical assistance and advice, health, capacity development, governance

VUP also has an educational component, including financial literacy and livelihood skills. The programme has achieved significant results in terms of new social protection instruments and wider coverage. In addition, the Government of Rwanda’s ability to manage VUP has been improved, with a strategy, systems and processes put in place to effectively manage the programme’s expansion and roll-out. Challenges persist in terms of planning and management, which has led to problems with targeting and delayed payments.

Through a UK aid-funded project – Social protection support to the poorest in Rwanda (SPSPR) – we supported the government to increase capacity, helping to extend the coverage of the social safety net to some of the country’s poorest cities and districts. Between 2013 and 2019, coverage skyrocketed from less than 30% to 70% of the population.

Malnutrition is one of Rwanda’s biggest challenges. It stunts growth in young children, which can lead to long-term health problems. As part of the DFID-funded project we helped design a scheme – called Nutrition Sensitive Direct Support (NSDS) – aimed at combating chronic malnutrition, particularly in the first 1000 days of a child’s life. NSDS will provide cash transfers to vulnerable families to incentivise the use of health and nutrition services.


of poorest Rwandans now have access to social protection

When the VUP scheme was launched, Rwanda’s existing poverty categorisation system (Ubudehe) was used to identify potential beneficiaries. It excluded some of the most vulnerable, such as women with no labour capacity. Our project has built on the Ubudehe system to strengthen the VUP targeting, making significant contributions to gender equality by targeting households headed by women, and those with considerable caring responsibilities receiving direct support to help them become more independent.

Rwanda’s VUP programme was one of a cohort of financial and social schemes implemented to support poor households or those at risk of falling into poverty in line with UN initiative to provide social protection. Analysis has shown substantial progress in poverty reduction as a direct result of VUP, with extreme poverty dropping from 24% to 16% between 2010-2011 and 2013-2014.

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