Batwa community is less integrated into social welfare programs, says new study
A new study on the status of historically marginalised people in Rwanda, such as the Batwa, in the government’s socio-economic programs has found that they are less integrated into social welfare programs. Accordingly, the study recommended the government of Rwanda to take affirmative action measures in order to tackle the long-term poverty experienced by this people.
On May 3, 2019, Marasa Umubano Hotel in Kigali held the launch of the findings of the Baseline study on the Status of Inclusion and Involvement of Historically Marginalized People (HMP) in Various Socio-Political Programmes and Promotion of their Human Rights in Rwanda. This event brought together 60 people, including representatives of International Organizations, NGOs and public institutions as well as citizens representing others.
The objective of this study conducted in seven districts of the country: Musanze, Nyabihu, Nyagatare, Gatsibo, Burera, Gicumbi and Gasabo was to examine how Historically Marginalized People can be integrated into the socio-economic programs of the government that benefit the other social categories of Rwanda and take them out of poverty.
At the end of the study, it was found that Historically Marginalized People are less integrated into programs such as Girinka, Vision Umurenge Program (VUP), Education and Access to Micro Finance services.
On the other hand, the study noted that this social category is remarkably integrated in the program of community-based health insurance known as “Mutuelle de santé”, but that it is also due to the fact that most of HMP members find themselves in the first socio-economic category of needy people-Ubudehe, where the government intervenes to pay the contributions to people.
According to the results of the study, this gap in the integration of Historically Marginalized People into the government’s social programs is due to the increased long-term poverty in which these communities live.
It is on the basis of this social situation of these individuals that those who conducted the study argue that the government should put in place special measures to integrate this category of people into its social programs as it is done for other special categories such as women, youth and persons with disabilities.
Gakire Anastase, one of researchers who conducted the study, said that “it has been found that all these social programs of the government have turned to other special categories of society such as women, youth or persons with disabilities, without foreseeing anything for this other category known as Historically Marginalized People.”
“It is remarkable that there should be special measures to ensure that this long-marginalized category comes out of the poverty in which they live.” he added.
Speakers at the launch insisted that the findings of this study were noted by other previous researches and studies, and that representatives of Historically Marginalized People organizations submitted them to the public authorities empowered to address them, but years passed without improvement of the situation.
Musabyimana Yvonne, representative of the association Community of Potters of Rwanda-COPORWA expressed her disappointment that: ” In the same way as AIMPO and Women’s Organization for Promoting Unity-WOPU who have just conducted this recent study, our association COPORWA and many other organizations, have conducted many studies based on tangible and verifiable facts, with clear testimony, but when we publish the reports and present them to the government with the hope of finding lasting solutions, nothing is done in that direction.”
For Yvonne “5 to 10 years without finding a sustainable solution, we say to ourselves that there was little will on the part of the authorities empowered to solve our problems”.
According to Ntakirutimana Richard, Executive Secretary of AIMPO, a grassroots organization in Rwanda that seeks to protect and promote the rights, welfare and development of HMP, “the government should find a special solution to get them out of this poverty, as was the case with other groups, taking into account the social discrimination they have experienced in the past, by fully integrating them into the social programs of the government.”
He added, “It’s not segregation, but it would be an affirmative post-discrimination action.”
Ntakirutimana echoed the statement made by the government representative at the ceremony, speaking of the Sustainable Development Goals, saying that “we are trying in the framework of the SDGs and I think that between 2024 and 2034 the government will have to produce a report and it is fine that at the end of the SDGs, no individual will have to be backlogged in development”
He blasted social inequality and called for the eradication of famine at the end of the SDGs.
While in Rwanda organizations advocating the promotion of Historically Marginalized People make claims to the government, it has been proven that HMP are shrinking around the world.
The figures indicate that this category is around 35,000 people in Rwanda.