The Government of Rwanda and the European Union (EU) Monday signed a Rwf55 billion grant agreement to support social protection in response to the Covid-19 crisis in the country, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning said in a statement.
The grant, €52.87 million (about Rwf55.5 billion), is part of the EU’s €460 million package of support to Rwanda signed in September, 2014 with the European Commission.
The grant follows a conversation between President Paul Kagame and the EU Commissioner for International Partnerships , Jutta Urpilainen late last month during which the two leaders discussed fighting the novel coronavirus pandemic that has affected all countries globally.
According to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, the objective of the funding is to support the Government to expand social protection and promote agriculture supply chains.
The financial package will particularly support Rwanda’s economic recovery plan through increased cash transfers and food assistance to citizens.
In total, the programme will help protect food security and livelihoods of at least 630,000 households most in need, according to the statement.
Uzziel Ndagijimana, the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, said that the impact of Covid-19 on the country’s economy has called for enhanced social protection measures.
This, he said, meant that the Government should maintain sustainable food security, reduce poverty and promote inclusive growth.
“The sustained development cooperation as well as the immediate European Union’s support to the Government’s response to the COVID 19, illustrates, once again, the mutual trust and excellent relations shared by the European Union and the Government of Rwanda,” Ndagijimana noted in a statement.
The disbursements will be provided in two fixed tranches of €36 million and €15.5 million respectively during the fiscal year 2019/20 and 2020/21 based on the implementation progress of the economic recovery plan.
According to the EU Ambassador to Rwanda, Nicola Bellomo, the support is part of the broader #TeamEurope response.
“#TeamEurope is the tangible expression of European solidarity,” he said.
The programme will come along with a support by the World Food Programme (WFP) in monitoring and logistics to ensure that food supply chains are working effectively, so that people can have access to affordable and nutritious food in the whole country.
The social transfers will be complemented by a support to the government on the effective functioning of the supply chains so that people can have a continued access to affordable, nutritious and diversified food.
In addition to the €52 million budget support grant to the Government, the EU is also providing five additional grants to the tune of €1.8 million to civil society organisations.
“These organisations work in close coordination with Local Government Authorities on the COVID social protection response at grass-roots level, and cater support to some of the most vulnerable communities across the country,” the statement reads in part.
The interventions are part of the broader #TeamEurope response, which brings together the support from the European Union institutions, the EU member states and their respective agencies and development banks.
The full support package of #TeamEurope in Rwanda amounts to more than €100 million and includes support to the health, economic, social protection and agriculture sectors.