Rwanda: World Bank team impressed by the ACE Project implementation progress
In May 2022, the World Bank team held the second implementation support mission for the Advancing Citizen Engagement Project (ACE) project in Gakenke and Burera Districts with the aim of reviewing the ACE project implementation progress and understanding the challenges and mitigation plans.
The team leader said that the objective of the mission was to see how the project is progressing and to talk with them about what communities have achieved with the support of Spark Microgrants and the Districts.
“We want to learn from what you’ve accomplished so far, what you believe you need to improve on, obstacles you’ve faced, and your future goals”, said Stephens, the World Bank team leader.
The field visit was jointly organized by Spark Microgrants, World Bank Rwanda Country Office, and Gakenke and Burera Districts. The first part of the field visit consisted of meetings with District officials who explained how the ACE Project has positively impacted local communities and changed their lives.
In the second part, the World Bank team visited different projects and interacted with beneficiaries to hear from different testimonies on how the ACE project has changed the local communities’ lives, including new opportunities arising due to changes in the community as a result of the project implementation.
During the visit to Gakenke and Burera Districts, the World Bank team met District officials and had a conversion on the Project Implementation overview in each district. The team also visited Busengo Sector in Gakenke and Rwerere Sector in Burera where they had the opportunity to interact with Sector officials, Social and Economic Development Officers (CEOs), and village representatives who explained how they are benefiting from ACE Project, the challenges experienced and ways to address them with the support of local authorities and Spark.
In both Districts, the project increased savings in the village where for example in Kamubuga, the Facilitated Collective Action Process (FCAP) members have saved Rwf 18,321,165 since 2019. The savings are used for self-support initiatives such as paying the Health Insurance, house utensils, and building/rehabilitating houses, among others
Raissa from Busengo Sector and her neighbors said that FCAP meetings enhanced confidence in public speaking skills among women.
“Before the introduction of FCAP meetings, Women were not allowed to meet and share their thoughts with men and there was no special day dedicated to women. Today, they are confident to speak in meetings and participate in decision-making”, she said.
According to villagers, the FCAP meetings helped establish a platform for village-level development coordination.
“FCAP meetings helped many more people. The criminality rate has reduced, and family conflicts and drug trafficking have significantly reduced, and that are FCAP results”.
In Gakenke District, Spark Microgrants operates in Kamubuga and Busengo Sectors. Kamubuga Sector is partnering with Spark MG since 2019 and Villages are graduating in August 2022.
The project increased the capacities of 4,922 households (89.6%) with the financial support of Rwf 241,920,000 provided by Spark MG and Rwf 12,600,000 from District contribution. Kamubuga also received Rwf 33,372,000 that help villagers to cope with Covid effects.
The project provided both social, economic, and community benefits throughout its implementation. Local residents in Gakenke and Burera Districts explained that the FCAP approach increased the attendance in village meetings and enabled mobilization for different Government programs, particularly the active participation in Health Insurance and crop and livestock insurance programs. “These meetings helped in the creation of a framework for village participatory planning, increased the capacity of local Government to effectively engage community members in Participatory Planning, and strengthened participatory Monitoring and Evaluation” local leaders explained.
The ACE project kicked off in September 2021 in 249 villages in 4 districts. The project is an initiative of Spark Microgrants, implemented through the collaboration of the World Bank, Spark Microgrants, Comic Relief, and the Governments of Rwanda and Japan. A total population of 152,645 is benefiting from the project in terms of improved village planning and engagement with local government.
The project has also enhanced the understanding of access to government social protection programs through engaging residents in project proposals that respond to the social development and priorities of their villages.
The $6 million project is meant to strengthen citizen engagement, and support livelihoods and income generation in rural areas. It will also provide training and support to government officials on how to engage citizens in local development planning at the national and local levels. Working in partnership with the Ministry of Local Government, this practical experience will inform a new national framework for participatory village planning.