Rwanda: 38% of Needy Households Denied Benefits - New Study

A survey conducted by Transparency International Rwanda has revealed gaps associated with Ubudehe categories regarding directing social protection benefits to the right beneficiaries.

The survey conducted in May this year and whose findings were released in Kigali on Wednesday, was carried out on 2,400 households in 10 randomly selected districts.

The sampled districts include Gasabo, and Kicukiro in the City of Kigali; Musanze, and Rulindo in Northern; Rwamagana, Bugesera in East; Gisagara, and Muhanga in South, as well as Nyabihu, and Karongi districts in West.

It indicated that 38.5 per cent of the respondents expressed that they were assigned categories that excluded them from social benefits they should have been entitled to.

In contrast, 23.6 per cent of the respondents reported that they were assigned Ubudehe categories which provided them with social benefits they did not deserve because they were relatively well-off.

Dubbed the "Citizen's Perception on the Transparency and Accountability in the Implementation of the Ubudehe Categorisation (2015-2018)," the survey found that 50 per cent of the respondents were satisfied with the information provided on Ubudehe categorisation process.

Ubudehe programme is a socio-economic initiative that refers to the classification of Rwandans based on their economic status for the government to better align services to its citizens.

Some of the benefits that people get in the first Ubudehe category - that of the most economically disadvantaged households -include cows under the One Cow per Poor Family or Girinka programme, free health insurance coverage, while some are given cash incentives.

While presenting the survey findings, Albert Rwego, Programme Manager, and head of research at Transparency International Rwanda said that citizens expressed frustration as all of them claimed to have been assigned Ubudehe category 3 and 4 by their local leaders to ensure they score high during assessments of performance contract (Imihigo).

"A cell leader in Musanze District put all the cell residents in the third and fourth Ubudehe categories, arguing that none of them was poor because the cell was located in Musanze town," he said, adding that some of the residents complained that they were put in categories that were beyond their financial means.

Alvera Mukabaramba, State Minister in charge of social affairs at the Ministry of Local Government said that the low rate by which people who are said to be satisfied by this classification programme is due to the fact that citizens largely view Ubudehe category as a means for getting free socio-economic benefits from the government.

"Because people link Ubudehe categories with the benefits they can get from them, their satisfaction will always tend to be low as long as they are in categories that do not favour them to get those benefits," she indicated.

But, she observed that the survey's figures on people who were wrongly categorised and were not able to get due benefits, and those who got undue benefits, was too high to be true.

"We provided a platform for people to appeal against the Ubudehe they were given in case they did not match their status and about 40 percent of them were considered," she said. It is true that the mismatches were there, but, those figures seem to be somehow exaggerated," she said.

Marie Immaculée Ingabire, Chairperson of Transparency International Rwanda said that wrong categories derail the country's development programme to get needy people out of poverty.

However, she said, some services such as tuition for university students under the government scholarship programme, and healthcare should be separated from Ubudehe.

"A person might have moderate the means, but, not able to afford tuition for more than one children. The same applies to medical treatment whereby one can be referred to King Faisal Hospital and be subjected to cover 10 per cent of a Rwf3 million medical bill when they have health insurance. That is Rwf300,000, and not many Rwandans can afford it," she observed.

Ubudehe categories are revised every three years. The current ones were established during the 2015 exercise.

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