The World Bank has agreed to help Rwanda further cut poverty with stronger safety nets for vulnerable families after it approved a grant of $50 million (about Rwf31.7bn) to help the country expand and manage its social protection system.
By cushioning more people from the full impact of various shocks, from unemployment or illness to sudden natural disasters, Rwanda will be able to make further dramatic cuts in poverty and inequality, reads a statement from World Bank country office.
The improved social protection system will help ensure that benefits reach those most in need, according to the World Bank.
"This grant will also help Rwanda to build a link between its social protection system and its disaster risk management framework through climate-related early warning mechanisms," Alex Kamurase, World Bank Task Team Leader for the programme is quoted as saying.
"The government will then be able to quickly scale up support to poor people living in rural areas during hard times such as drought".
Rwanda has made record reduction in poverty levels, from 57 percent in 2006 to 45 percent in 2011, an achievement that the government partly attributes to the success of its social safety net programmes such as the Vision 2020 Umurenge Programme (VUP).
World Bank support to VUP helped the programme cover nearly half of the country's 416 geographical sectors in 2012, up from just 30 when it was launched in 2008.
The number of poor people benefiting from the programme has reportedly grown from less than 10,000 to over half a million in the same period.
Viviane Nyiramahigura, 45, a widow and mother of three, from Nyamirama sector in Kayonza district, Eastern Province, is among the many beneficiaries of public works employment under the VUP.
"If it was not for the VUP public works programme, there is no way I could have raised money to send my son to secondary school, pay the health insurance subscription for my family, or clothe and feed my children," Nyiramahigura said.
"We are happy to continue supporting Rwanda's efforts to manage its social safety net programs more efficiently, so that poor people can withstand economic and climatic shocks better and benefit more from economic growth," Carolyn Turk, the World Bank Country Manager, said.
The Second Support to the Social Protection System program, funded through the World Bank's International Development Association (IDA), will help the Government to implement its National Social Protection Strategy.
It will boost government capacity to expand and move towards managing various programs-including cash transfer elements of the VUP, the Genocide Survivors Support Fund, and the Rwanda Demobilisation and Reintegration Program, under a single system.
The World Bank's support to social protection in Sub-Saharan Africa has grown from an average of US$260 million a year during 2001-2005 to US$600 million a year during 2006-2010.