In November, the Centre for Social Protection (CSP) at IDS convened two workshops on social protection for civil servants and officials in Rwanda. The first workshop was a one-week training course for civil servants; the second was a meeting for high-level officials.
The workshops aimed to build capacity to expand implementation of social protection policies. They were initiated by the Rwandan Ministry of Local Government with support from UNICEF and the International Labour Organization.
Social protection policies include cash transfers and insurance to poor and vulnerable groups of people. They aim to address the factors that keep people in poverty.
Rwanda committed to strengthening social protection policies
In the past decade, African nations have increasingly put into place social protection programmes. Some governments are now seeking to expand programmes to provide nation-wide coverage, and are linking these programmes to strategies for economic growth.
The Government of Rwanda has implemented several social protection programmes, including the Vision 2020 Umurenge Programme, which has functioned since 2008. The Government published a new national social protection policy in 2011.
“The Government of Rwanda has a strong commitment to the social protection agenda,” explained Mark Davies, programme manager at CSP.
Strengthening the capacity of civil servants and government to implement social protection
The two CSP workshops aimed to support the Government of Rwanda’s commitment to social protection, to broaden officials’ understanding of policy solutions and to build capacities to implement social protection programmes.
The training course was attended by directors and senior officers from eight ministries and government agencies, including the Ministries of Local Government, Health, Agriculture and Education. Thirty Vice-Mayors of Social Affairs from across Rwanda also participated.
Course activities included seminars, participatory activities, and field visits to rural sites where residents had benefited from social protection programmes.
Following the training course, CSP convened a high-level discussion attended by the Minister of Local Government, leaders from development agencies, and senior officials from various levels of government. The discussion highlighted recommendations for improving social protection programmes and strengthening Rwanda’s political commitment to social protection.
Workshops recommend next steps for building social protection capacity
In a report summarizing the outcomes of the two workshops, the organisers, including CSP and the Ministry of Local Government, recommended steps for continuing to build the capacity of civil servants and policymakers to implement social protection.
The report notes high levels of commitment from technicians and politicians as well as from beneficiaries of social protection programmes themselves.
While policymakers are sometimes concerned that receiving social protection can be a stigma, field visits during the CSP training indicated that many beneficiaries were proud to be involved in the programmes.
The report recommendations include:
- Developing a comprehensive planning framework that coordinates social protection programmes with other policies, including those related to health and education,
- Building capacity for research and data analysis at various levels of government,
- Training locally-based trainers, who will be able to draw on local knowledge and continue to build capacity across Rwandan institutions.
The report states that social protection capacity is already relatively strong in Rwanda.
Davies said: “In the future, if Rwanda maintains its current path, people may soon start looking to the nation as an example of innovation and commitment to social protection.”