Agnes Mukankusi lost her sight four years ago; she lives with her little granddaughter. The 64-year old lives in Kibenga Cell, Rutunga Sector in Gasabo District. The elderly woman waits for her granddaughter to guide her whenever she wants to move or uses her stick to move around when the young girl is not around.
Before joining the Vision 2020 Umurenge Programme (VUP), it was hard for her to find something to put on the table. Besides, she says her house was being destroyed and she hadn’t any money to get it repaired.
“Neighbors had started advising me to go begging, which I refused as it was out of Rwandan values and my principles,” she remembers.
Mukankusi was put under the VUP Direct Support scheme, and she receives Rwf18,000 every month which she proudly says has changed much of her living conditions.
Direct Support consists of a monthly direct cash transfer for very poor households who cannot work.
“Now I receive Rwf18,000 every month, which at the beginning I used to repair my house. I can’t buy a cow or any other thing of value, but I can live and save little by little. I use part of the VUP support to cover my eye checkup bills twice a month and invest the rest into farming activities,” she said.
She said she also uses the money to help her granddaughter to go to school by providing the school materials and school feeding contributions.
“When I get the money, I save like Rwf5,000 monthly and pay workers to till my land. When the season is favorable, I harvest more than 100 kilograms of Irish potatoes and around 100 kilograms of beans. I also grow other crops which help me to fight hunger,” she says.
“I wonder what would my living conditions be if I was not admitted in the VUP.”
When the production reduces, she uses VUP earnings to buy food items.
“I’m not that kind of person who makes unnecessary expenses. I only buy and pay things which I consider the most needed or they can bring interests to my home. It is me who manage the money, it is not the money that manages me," she confidently says.
Education becomes affordable
Telesphore Uwineza, a resident of RuramboCell, Remera Sector in MusanzeDistrict has visual impairment and was admitted into the VUP in 2013.
At the beginning, he says he worked under Classic Public Works and was paidRwf1,000 per day. However, the work was not easy for him because of his visual impairment. His colleagues used to give him a separate task for fear of him hurting anyone accidentallyat the site. In 2018, he shifted into Direct support (DS), in which he receives Rwf18,000 per month.
“I get all I need from the VUP and I can buy seeds from the money I get from this program. All my children are studying and all school materials are gotten from that money,” he said.
Uwinezasays in his area, people are able to develop when they have land but his disability does not allow him to save enough for buying a plot.
“I once managed to buy a pig, which I sold later to cover my medical bills. I need to buy drugs every month and I use VUP money to get them,” he adds.
Justine Gatsinzi, the Division Manager for Social Protection Programmes at Local Administrative Entities Development Agency (LODA), said some VUP beneficiaries will be supported the whole of life as they are not able to live on their own. They include elderly people, people with disabilities and those with chronic diseases.
“When you assess the living conditions of Direct Support beneficiaries, they are able to live only because they are supported. If they don’t receive support, they fall back in extreme poverty,” he said.
The EICV 5 thematic report on VUP indicates that only 15 per cent of VUP beneficiaries managed to come out of poverty. However, the same report shows that 13 per cent of Rwandans dropped into extreme poverty.