Strengthening civil society for community development and accountability

October 19, 2020

Signing ceremony of the new grantees held on 26 August 2020

On 26 August 2020, the Rwanda Governance Board (RGB) and the UNDP Rwanda awarded financial grants to 36 civil society organizations through a joint program meant to strengthen the capacity of civil society organisations (CSOs) for accountable and responsive governance.

The grants were provided to enable CSOs to implement various projects in different areas including governance, economic development and social welfare. Each project is awarded a maximum of Rwf 25,000,000 (or 26000 USD)

The 36 projects will be implemented in different areas namely; family promotion, anti-Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) and child protection, environment protection for green growth and climate resilience, social protection, youth and women empowerment, culture promotion, agriculture and livestock.

Donatille Mukarubayiza is a representative of Centre de Formation Agricole et de Petit Elevage de Kamonyi (CEFAPEK), one of the 36 grantees. Their supported project aims at supporting seven cooperatives, including two cooperatives of parents of children with disabilities. The main purpose is to help members of those cooperatives improve their economic conditions though various initiatives, which include growing fruits and vegetables.

CEFAPEK has been helping these cooperatives through training and counseling. Lack of enough financial capacity has been the main challenge that hinders its support to them. Mukarubayiza is convinced that the grant is a great opportunity which will empower her organisation to better help members of the cooperatives to change their lives.

“We are thankful that this progamme came because this grant will help to improve their socio-economic conditions and I am convinced that it will improve their livelihoods,” said Mukarubayiza adding that the programme is enabling CSOs to directly change lives of the Rwandans and contribute to the development of the country.

The projects were selected through a competitive process completed in 2019 whereby 65 projects were selected. The first round received the funds for the implementation of their projects in the 2019-2020 fiscal year.

The grantees also undergo capacity building training aimed at enhancing the knowledge and understanding of the program, project management, reporting principles and practices, among others.

Since its inception, the programme has awarded 183 grants with a total amount of Rwf 4,7 billion, allowing 183 projects to be implemented in various areas such as human rights, gender equality and women empowerment, youth empowerment, family welfare, unity and reconciliation, citizen participation, social protection and community development.  

Impact of the first phase of the programme

The first phase of the programme awarded financial grants to 88 projects. In her keynote address on the occasion of signing ceremony for new grantees, the Chief Executive Officer of RGB, Dr. Usta Kayitesi, hailed the positive change that the programme has brought.

“We know that these grants have made a real difference across the targeted communities and people who are direct beneficiaries,” explained Dr. Kayitesi adding that “the amount of money that the Government of Rwanda and UNDP have invested in this programme has yielded results. There are many communities that have been served in a way that significantly improved their socio-economic conditions.”

Dr. Kayitesi provided the example of Heroes Day Care Center, a centre run by a local NGO called APEH, located in Kigali city that takes care of children with disabilities, which was supported by the programme. The grant helped to improving the living conditions of the children by offering quality education and physiotherapy services, spaces to play and do sports, among others,”

She shared her emotions about the change that the financial grant has made to the lives of these children. “When you look at the smile on the faces of these kids, when you look at how they have found joy in playing various games despite their disabilities, you realize that these grants have made a difference in their lives,” she sounded amazed.

Another example that was mentioned is a project by Action Pour le Developpement du Peuple (ADEPE) that enhanced the rights of women and their children in Rubavu District, Western Province.

The project sought to address the challenges that women who are involved in cross border trade between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) were facing. These challenges include lack of skills and access to finance, among others. In addition, as they are required to carry their goods across the border to access markets in DRC, they had to leave their young children behind at the border in miserable and unsafe conditions.

The grant allowed ADEPE in collaboration with Rubavu district authorities to provide capital to the selected beneficiaries and trained them in business and finance management. It also supported in building an early childhood development centre in which they leave their children to be taken care of. Parents have been trained in childcare as a way to combat malnutrition among them.

Dr. Kayitesi noted that the programme is aligned with Rwanda’s National Strategy for Transformation (NST I) adopted in 2017 and has allowed CSOs to play their prominent role in implementation of the strategy.    

Mr. Stephen Rodrigues, the former Resident Representative of UNDP in Rwanda appreciated the tremendous achievements registered in the first phase of the programme and challenged the new grantees to do better and more to contribute to the achievement of Rwanda’s Agenda 2030.  “May the funded projects bring more hope, relief and empower people and communities towards the realization of the agenda 2030,” he said.

He commended the RGB for its leadership in promoting CSOs’ role in building transformational governance and the continued optimal working relationship between the two institutions. 

Mr. Rodriques reiterated UNDP’s commitment to CSOs strengthening, which further strengthens the social contract. He also invited other partners and stakeholders to appreciate the crucial role played by CSOs in national development and join efforts in supporting CSOs and the communities they serve in Rwanda and beyond.  

The 36 CSOs received their grants amid COVID-19 pandemic that has ravaged economies and businesses across the globe, including in Rwanda. The funded projects are expected to contribute to the socio-economic recovery of communities they serve from the negative effects of the pandemic. 

Since its inception, the programme has awarded 183 grants with a total amount of Rwf 4,7 billion, allowing 183 projects to be implemented in various areas such as human rights, gender equality and women empowerment, youth empowerment, family welfare, unity and reconciliation, citizen participation, social protection and community development.