UNDP Rwanda and Belgium sign funding agreement to open economic opportunities for persons with disabilities, youth, and women

July 14, 2022

UNDP Resident Representative in Rwanda, Maxwell Gomera,(left) and Ambassador of Belgium in Rwanda Bert Versmessen

2 million Euro agreement to bring unprecedented resources to Rwanda’s poorest districts

Kigali, December 09, 2021- The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Rwanda and the Government of Belgium have signed a funding agreement worth 2 million Euros to expand the social and economic inclusion of youth, women, and persons with disabilities in Rwanda’s eight districts. With this new agreement Belgium gives additional support to UNDP in the fulfillment of its mandate.

“By prioritizing the most vulnerable groups in those eight districts, our agreement makes real the commitment to leave no one behind,” said the Ambassador of Belgium in Rwanda Bert Versmessen. “The full involvement of women, youth and persons with disabilities are crucial to Rwanda’s economic recovery from the impacts of COVID-19 and to its future prosperity.”

The agreement was formalized on 09 December 2021.  ‘As we emerge from the pandemic, we have the opportunity to reset how we solve society’s biggest challenges. This agreement contributes to that reset,’ said Maxwell Gomera, the UNDP Representative in Rwanda.

‘Working with the most excluded and vulnerable, recognizing their rights and strengthening their institutions and businesses is an essential starting point for a development reset.’ he added.

The programme aims to achieve a number of results:

  • Empower businesses and cooperatives of vulnerable women, youth and persons with disabilities through training, mentoring, entrepreneurship and job creation
  • Strengthen the awareness and capacity of media houses and media practitioners to address stigma and discrimination against women, girls, youth, and persons with disabilities
  • Encourage a change of mindset within and beyond vulnerable communities to attract partnership and investment for the empowerment of these groups
  • Enurse long term impact by building human and institutional capacities within local governments, civil society organizations, media, and micro enterprises

It will promote inclusive and community-based development through the empowerment of women, young people, and persons with disabilities, and work to lessen disparities that have grown worse during the COVID-19 pandemic, despite significant gains in recent years.

At the signing event, the signatories noted that major new efforts are also needed to further support the socio-economic advancement of persons with disabilities. They generally have less access to education, experience poorer health outcomes, lower levels of employment, and higher poverty rates than others.

The programme’s eight districts (Gicumbi, Burera, Ngororero, Nyamasheke, Nyaruguru, Rutsiro, Gisagara and Huye) are largely rural, and have poverty rates that range from 40% to 68%.  

Both UNDP and the Government of Belgium are longstanding partners of Rwanda’s transformation journey. To implement this programme, UNDP will leverage its global expertise and collaborate closely with government agencies to address socio-economic barriers, accelerate local development and empower vulnerable groups. The programme will equally benefit from Belgium’s long history of development cooperation in Rwanda. It will further strengthen collaboration and synergies between UNDP and the Government of Belgium both at corporate and national level.  

Speaking after the signing event, the UNDP Resident Representative, Maxwell Gomera, hailed the bilateral relationship between UNDP and Belgium government, and this particular contribution which will support Rwanda’s sustainable development objectives.