FAO Regional Office for Africa

FAO explaining Coherence between social protection and agriculture to Rwanda’s Parliament

Photo:© FAO/Rwanda

29 November, 2016: Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) on Tuesday 29 November 2016, held a consultative dialogue with Members of Rwanda’s Chamber of Deputies to create awareness and explain to them the linkages between social protection and agriculture in ending poverty and fighting malnutrition. In Rwanda, transferring agriculture assets will play an increasingly important role in social protection in supporting poor and vulnerable people and the vision is to increase this in the future.  .

According to The third Integrated Household Living Conditions Survey (EICV3), In the past five years, poverty in Rwanda has reduced by twelve percentage points from 57% to 45% and extreme poverty has dropped from 36% to 24%. Data from the EDPRS1 flagship social protection programme, VUP, demonstrates how the social protection sector has contributed to this remarkable achievement.

Although Rwanda has taken concrete steps towards linking agriculture and social protection much more needs to be done as the reality of delivering and implementing policies by the different sectors can be challenging and fragmented.

The fact that it is not just government that has been active in implementing social protection, but civil society and the donor community, FAO recognised the need to bring everyone to the common understanding of how the two components complement each other, by bringing on board also the Parliament in particular.

As the social protection sector is relatively new in Rwanda, at the full-day plenary session at the Parliament of Rwanda FAO sought to increase the understanding of the Rwandan Parliamentarians on the important linkages between agriculture and social protection. It also explored concrete actions the Parliament can take to create an environment in which agriculture and social protection can increase efficiency and impact of existing efforts towards reducing hunger and poverty in Rwanda.

While meeting the lawmakers alongside the Minister of Local government, Minister of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry, development partners such as DFID and UNICEF, the FAO Representative to Rwanda, Attaher Maiga said “ The linkages between agriculture and social protection are crucial to reach sustained graduation out of extreme poverty”.   

The Social Protection Team Leader at FAO, Natalia Winder Rossi who made a presentation said social protection programmes can go a long way to build the resilience of small scale farmers to increase production and incomes.

This event was a follow up to the policy dialogue that began in May 2016, discussing gaps, needs and opportunities for creating more consistent links between agriculture and social protection policies and programmes.

In a tone suggesting the start of a concrete partnership between FAO and partners and Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture, the Speaker of Rwanda’s Chamber of Deputies Mrs Donatille Mukabalisa said: “Partners should continue dialogue with Lawmakers so that they better understand opportunities and challenges in the linkages between social protection and Agriculture in fighting hunger and poverty to help the development of the whole country”.”.

“The dialogue will help us enact laws that promote and strengthen consistency between social protection and agriculture” she added

FAO’s interventions in Rwanda

When flooding and landslides struck Gakenke district in mid-2016, farmers lost the crops in their fields and struggled to transport their harvest to markets. The disaster left 34 people dead, damaged 58km of the roads, bridges and other infrastructure as well as destroying 1,632 hectares of farmfields. In the aftermath of the disaster, FAO began a ‘safety net intervention’ programme to support 4,317 households affected by these climate related disasters. It provided 25 tons of maize, 20 tons beans and 192.9 tons of fertilizer to flood and mudslides victims in Karambo, Nemba and Gasenyi sectors.

FAO’s support also enabled vulnerable farmers to rebuild crop production systems that were jeopardized by the heavy rainfall.  Under the Social protection strategy farming households earned income through a cash-for work scheme. Beneficiaries are paid for their participation in rehabilitation works to stabilize the soil of damaged crop lands.

FAO’s commitment

FAO is committed to support governments and partners in addressing the main challenges for incorporating social protection into national strategies and actions to fight hunger and in promoting greater policy coherence and synergies between social protection, food and nutrition security, agricultural development, natural resource management and rural poverty reduction.

Agriculture and social protection together can meaningfully reduce poverty and hunger, particularly in rural areas. In the last 2 years, since the Malabo Declaration on Accelerated Agricultural Growth and Transformation for Shared Prosperity and Improved Livelihoods, there has been a significant increase in the awareness and understanding of how the two sectors can work together.