Donor funds dry up as Covid-19 impact hits NGOs

Tuesday September 15 2020

Rwandans employed directly or benefit from

Rwandans employed directly or benefit from donor-funded programmes worried about their source of livelihood. Courtesy PHOTO 

MOSES K. GAHIGI
By MOSES K. GAHIGI
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Non-governmental organisations have started feeling the pinch as donors begin suspending funding for key development programmes.

In the face of dwindling resources, many Rwandans employed directly or benefit from donor-funded programmes are now worried about their source of livelihood as more programmes are cancelled due to the adverse impact of Covid-19.

Oxfam is expected to close its Rwandan offices in March next year while other NGOs have even already closed their operations.

“The decision came a bit abrupt, some of us have loans with banks and to make matters worse the closure happened amidst the Covid19 pandemic when it is almost impossible to find another job,” said an employee of Oxfam who preferred anonymity.

One of the beneficiaries of Oxfam’s funding support is Muhanga Food Pro-cessing Industries, which processes Soy to make Soy-based products like tofu, soy milk and soy flour, whose operations remains in balance as the Organisation closes.

Oxfam gives conditional grants to SME’s, where it partners with banks to give loans to identified SME’s especially those transitioning into value addition and export.

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The loans these banks give to the beneficiaries are conditional to Oxfam topping up some money.

One SME in particular is between a rock and a hard place after it got up to Rwf170million loan from a bank to improve its processing capacity and export Cassava leaves paste to Belgium.

With Oxfam closing, it will not be giving the money it was supposed to top up, yet the loan has already been given to the SME, leaving no other option for the bank but to foreclose the SME’s property.

For its Women Economic Empowerment, Oxfam targeted up to 31,406 farmers, 20,112 women and 11,294 men from nine Districts, including vulnerable farmers.

The indirect programme beneficiaries are 157,030 households, with beneficiaries each expected to grow at a rate of 20 per cent annually, all these people and more will lose out on the development expected to be accrued from just one programme.

Some of the NGOs especially those involved in social welfare programmes have suddenly pivoted from their usual programmes and deployed resources to Covid-19 related interventions.

“Things have changed a lot, the resources in the donor community are shrinking and this has affected NGO’s with restricted funding, some have closed while others have cancelled some pro-poor programmes.

“We had to postpone some of the grants we had to give our beneficiaries this year, things didn’t go as we planned due to the pandemic” said Caroline Numuhire, the Rwanda programme associate at Segal family foundation, one of the NGOs working in Rwanda.

Some of the NGOs that have closed shop in Rwanda include Sustainable Development of Mining in Rwanda, Winrock International and Vision for a nation, among others.

Some NGOs whose programmes centre around reproductive health and fighting early pregnancies, fighting malnutrition, youth employment had to pivot to Covid19 related interventions.

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