In The New Times, Edwin Musoni reports:
The genocide had enormous consequences that are both visible and indiscernible to the survivors and Rwandans in general. It also profoundly affected the lives of everyone in Rwanda socially, economically and psychologically.
In 1998, the government established the Fund for Genocide Survivors (FARG) to channel financial support and otherwise to survivors. The FARG Executive Secretary, Theophile Ruberangeyo, says since 1998, the fund has spent over Rwf130 billion on survivors’ welfare with 75 per cent spent on education.
“We are currently conducting an impact assessment study to see how effective FARG has been since its establishment. Findings of the study will be released in less than two weeks,” says Ruberangeyo.
A preliminary study indicates that 98 per cent of genocide survivors are satisfied with the way they have been facilitated to acquire education. According to the study, the two per cent who were discontented were those who had dropped out of school for various reasons.
Although education is considered the golden success of FARG, the programme will come to its close in 2019. “We expect that a child who was born during the genocide and maybe slightly after would have graduated at university by then,” Ruberangeyo observes. Available statistics indicate that to date, 4,339 genocide survivors under the FARG sponsorship have graduated with Bachelors degrees while 5,812 are still at university.
Evidently, 70 per cent of IBUKA representatives at local levels are youths with a Bachelors degree, while some are Masters degree holders.
IBUKA is the umbrella association of Rwanda genocide survivors’ organisations.
However, according to Jean Pierre Dusingizemungu, the president of IBUKA, over 12,000 students failed to make it to university. “We request all agencies and anybody who can assist to help these children acquire skills that could help lead a better life,” he appeals.
All these survivors become independent when they leave school but there are others who still need assistance 18 years after the genocide.
The assistance has also incorporated the construction of houses for them. According Dusingizemungu, 40,187 houses have since been constructed but some of these houses are now dilapidated and need renovation or reconstruction. Figures from FARG indicate that 80 per cent of the survivors who have benefited from the housing programme expressed satisfaction but some complain that their houses are in a sorry state.
As part of supporting survivors, the government introduced a financial support scheme commonly known as inkunga y’ingoboka for the vulnerable. Currently, 23,000 survivors have benefited from the programme.
“Genocide survivors’ organisations need a financial boost. We have youth who are able to work but they need support in terms of training and project management,” Dusingizemungu points out.
Also in line with the welfare boost, government is ensuring that all vulnerable genocide survivors are given a free cow under the one cow per family programme. A family with a cow has access to milk and fertiliser which helps in improving its welfare.
Although there are no clear figures of how many people survived the genocide, among the criteria for determining the number of vulnerable genocide survivors is through enrolment with the universal health insurance scheme (Mutuelle de Sante). To date, the scheme has enlisted a total of 165,000 genocide survivors who benefit through FARG.
However, Dusingizemungu points out that the government should ratify a policy to offer effective treatment to patients suffering from chronic diseases arising from the genocide. Currently, 18,500 genocide survivors require special treatment that requires a lot of money, says Ruberangeyo.
“We have the money we just need re-align the whole systems. Among those that need special treatment include some with chronic trauma, epilepsy as a result of head-cuts and others,” he states.
After spending billions of Rwandan francs on housing for survivors, an assessment carried out by the Auditor General, Obadiah Biraro, last year revealed that the construction was not worth the amount of money spent. Biraro carried out the assessment study at the request of the Senate following several allegations of embezzlement and mismanagement.
The audit that was carried for the period 2006 – 2007 looked at the funds FARG spent on housing and projects geared towards helping survivors. Biraro reported that records from FARG and the Ministry of Local Government indicate that Rwf3. 3 billion was transferred to districts for the construction of houses for survivors during that period. He added that in 2008, a total of Rwf 3.1bn was spent on cement, iron sheets and roofing nails.
“The loss of value for money is due to inadequate documentation to confirm the quantity of materials supplied. No documentation was provided by the ministry to show the exact quality of iron sheets delivered by the supplier. Ultimately, it is difficult to confirm whether the iron sheets delivered to the ministry were of the appropriate type and quality,” said the AG.
Prior to that, several government officials were taken to task by Parliament over the mismanagement of FARG funds with the Senate accusing government officials of feeding the legislature with misleading information.
As a result of the AG’s report, the Senate also summoned the then Prime Minister to explain the disparities in the mismanagement of the funds. The Premier indeed acknowledged there were evident mistakes in the management of FARG funds and construction materials for houses of FARG beneficiaries. He said that among the errors, some FARG beneficiaries got more houses than they were entitled to. He, however, explained that only 1,500 out of the 40,000 beneficiaries were yet to get houses in 1995.
Following the development, FARG took a decision to streamline its operations. Among the sectors that were thoroughly revised include education that had recorded over 19,000 ghost beneficiaries. According to Ruberangeyo, the revision saved FARG a total of Rwf 8billion.
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