Charities in RwandaAlthough progress is visible concerning poverty in Rwanda, with the poverty rate decreasing from 75.2% to 52% between 2000 and 2013, further action is necessary. The latest World Bank statistics from 2016 indicate that 52% of the country’s population still lives in poverty. 

Three charities, in particular, are combating the effects of poverty in Rwanda.

GiveDirectly’s Cash Transfer Method

GiveDirectly, co-founded by Rohit Wanchoo, Michael Faye, Paul Niehaus and Jeremy Shapiro in 2008, is a charity that provides direct cash transfers to those living in poverty. This organization believes that people suffering from poverty understand how to address their problems better than any organization or government department ever could.

As a result, GiveDirectly avoids intervening with grand infrastructure projects or conditional aid packages. Instead, they place money directly into the pockets of those living below the poverty line in various countries, including Rwanda.

Poverty in Rwanda is a concern that GiveDirectly is committed to addressing, evident by 86,955 Rwandan households receiving cash from the charity.

Nsengiyumva received $412 from the organization, enabling her to buy land in a safer area, free from the risks of flooding. Here, GiveDirectly assisted those living in Rwandan poverty by relocating a family.

Tuyisenge is another success story. After receiving $415, he could repair the family home and save money to pay for his children’s school fees. This cash sum allowed him to secure his family’s future and potentially break the cycle of poverty in Rwanda.

Rwanda Action’s Bottom-up Approach

Rwanda Action, founded by David Chaplin in 2008, is a charity that collaborates with communities to deliver needed aid. Similar to GiveDirectly, Rwanda Action believes that those suffering from poverty know the assistance they require. Consequently, Rwanda Action does not adopt a ‘one size fits all’ aid policy. Instead, the organization employs a ‘bottom-up’ approach, ensuring that communities receive the help they genuinely need.

For example, after the 2008 earthquake, the visible effects of poverty in Rwanda were apparent as the natural disaster destroyed homes, displaced families and devastated farms, necessitating swift intervention.

Rwanda Action aimed to address the shelter need by constructing homes and rehousing over 50 families, preventing homelessness. In response to this crisis, 2000 families received training on improving crop yields through small-scale farming. This training enabled families to produce more food, saving funds that would have otherwise been spent on purchasing food. The increased disposable income empowered families to invest in school fees, housing and health care.

Increased crop yields could also combat chronic malnutrition, a severe issue in Rwanda, where a notable percentage of Rwandan children experience chronic malnutrition as of 2010, according to the World Health Organization.

Finally, Rwanda Action endeavors to tackle the problem of child homelessness, a brutal symptom of poverty in Rwanda, which sees 7,000 children living on the streets, ReliefWeb reported in 2021.

The organization established a center for street children named ‘aho Neza Mwana’, meaning a good life for children. The center provided short-term residential stays for 214 boys and a day program for 85 boys. These interventions play a pivotal role in supporting vulnerable children and removing them from harmful environments.

Children of Rwanda’s Sustainable Approach

Founded by Robbie MacMillan, Children of Rwanda is a charity that dismantles barriers preventing impoverished Rwandan children from accessing education. Enhancing education access is vital, given that Rwanda’s literacy rate stood at 76% as of 2021, according to the World Bank. Improving the literacy rate is only achievable through education, underscoring the significance of this organization’s work.

The most persistent barrier to overcome is cost, encompassing expenses related to uniforms, materials, school meals and exam fees.

To help keep up with the costs of education, Children of Rwanda equips families with the tools to increase their income independently. The sustainability displayed by this approach is essential, as it ensures that families do not become reliant on assistance and instead become independent as a result of this charity’s aid.

For instance, Children of Rwanda collaborates with parents to teach them farming techniques to generate a sustainable income.

The additional income enables parents to send their children to school, aiming to break the cycle of poverty in Rwanda. Completing school offers Rwandan children better job prospects and equips them with the knowledge to make decisions benefiting their well-being.

Children of Rwanda’s work is especially beneficial for gender equality, as women who complete their education gain a 15-20% increase in earnings for every year in education.

While Rwandan people across the country undoubtedly feel the impact of organizational work, work remains on the part of charities, international organizations and governments.

– Tom Eccles
Photo: Flickr