Your Ubudehe group could be incorrect

Sunday February 3 2019


Residents of Western Province speaking to their members of parliament. A recent research done by Never Again Rwanda showed that citizens, especially the rural poor are placed in wrong Ubudehe categories. PHOTO | CYRIL NDEGEYA 

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Citizens, especially those living in the rural areas are placed in wrong Ubudehe categories.

Those who should be in category one or two are incorrectly put in categories three or four, which affects social safety services like the community-based health insurance scheme (Mutuelle De santé), according to a recent research done by Never Again Rwanda.

The research also shows that the selection process is dogged with favouritism and duplication of government services recipients, which affects inclusion of vulnerable citizens. This has left scores of low-income citizens unable to access these services.

“While the Ubudehe system is mostly good and viewed as a fair way of selecting vulnerable people, some participants complained that, in many places, the categorisation by village assemblies was not approved by the relevant authorities.

“Some citizens belonging in categories one or two would reportedly be placed in incorrect categories (three or four), which negatively affected the inclusion of vulnerable citizens,” reads the report.


Citizens alleged that some corrupt village and cell leaders included their relatives or friends in category three or four at the expense of the most needy.

“The research confirms what we already know about the loopholes in the Ubudehe system especially at the local level, which affects delivery of services for the intended recipients.

The issue is being addressed at different levels,” said Usta Kayitesi, Rwanda Governance Board interim chief executive officer.

The research, which largely looked into how civil society organisations in the country work, also highlighted the increasingly important role played by community-based organisations such as village savings groups.

Local leaders regularly seek the support of these organisations to mobilise their members to pay contributions for Mutuelle de Santé, attend public meetings, and conduct community work.

The women-based saving groups not only raise their members’ awareness on playing an active role in governance, they also encourage them to vie for positions both in the National Women’s Council and local government. However, despite their critical role in poverty reduction, social cohesion, and citizen participation, these groups lack support and a regulatory framework.

“One of the things that came out strongly in this research is the critical role played by community-based organisations and their impact on poverty alleviation as well as citizen participation across the board,” said Joseph Nkurunziza Ryarasa, the executive director of Never Again Rwanda.


Some local government leaders were accused of not being accountable about their failures, with community-based organisations finding this risky for their operations.

“Some leaders are not receptive to reports or information on issues they have not addressed and therefore perceive community-based organisations as confrontational for raising the issues,” reads the report.

A story is told of one community-based organisation that carried out research that showed there was a serious malnutrition problem in the area. The findings challenged official figures and the local leaders threatened to harass the organisation.

These fears are shared by some media houses who only publishing news that has no potential to attract retribution or jeopardise their interests of their TV or radio stations.