Scale up proven interventions
The New Village Movement (Saemaul Undong) was a community-led development programme launched in 1970 by the Government of the Republic of Korea that raised incomes, improved living standards in rural areas and narrowed the urban-rural divide. Since then, the success of the approach – abbreviated ‘SMU’ – in reducing poverty within a decade has attracted the interest of other countries. In 2013, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in association with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea agreed to launch a global initiative on scaling up local development solutions for sustainable livelihoods. In support of this global initiative, this study shares the experience in Rwanda through nine initiatives.
Many rural community development initiatives in Rwanda have used the SMU approach, which is characterized by a ‘can-do’ spirit, self-reliance and cooperation. In addition to sharing knowledge through the present report, the partners aim to establish a Centre of Excellence to collect and share best practices of the SMU model for integrated local development in Rwanda as well as regionally and globally.
In this context, the study aims to research, prioritize, codify and produce knowledge products which document the achievements, best practices, challenges and provide recommendations of nine different initiatives on community development and local economic development. They were undertaken in Rwanda by a number of development partners in cooperation with government at several level, and have in common approaches similar to those used in the SMU model implemented by the Republic of Korea. Nine projects were analyzed during the study:
1. Saemaul Volunteer Programme in Rwanda
2. Saemaul Zero Hunger Communities – Phase I (SZHC I)
3. Saemaul Zero Hunger Communities – Phase II (SZHC II)
4. National Fund for Environment and Climate Change (FONERWA)
5. Integrated Development Programme (IDP)
6. Building an Inclusive Financial Sector in Rwanda (BIFSIR)
7. Decentralization and Environment Management Project (DEMP)
8. Rural Community Support Project (RCSP)
9. Nyaruguru Integrated Rural Development Project (NIRDP)
Each programme has been documented as an independent case study and analyzed separately to capture major achievements, challenges and lessons learned and to inform recommendations from the perspective of the SMU approach. The programmes also were reviewed in a comparative analysis with reference to inclusiveness, sustainability and scale up potential. A framework containing set of indicators was developed to understand these issues in depth. The indicators include relevance of the programme to local community, community participation, integration with national processes, engagement with major actors, experiential learning from the programme (and its sharing) and effectiveness of the programme (to the local economy, institutional capacity building and addressing policies and practices).
The aspect of inclusiveness is addressed in all nine programmes, though accomplished in different ways in different programmes depending on resources and prioritization. Key aspects of inclusiveness include the following:
· Appropriate targeting, as in the selection of interior villages, addressing issues of food insecurity and unemployment, and reaching people vulnerable to natural disasters and those who are marginalized;
· Financial inclusion, through savings and credit cooperatives (SACCOs), microfinance institutions (MFIs) and innovative banking to reach the hard-to-reach;
· Use of the HIMO approach, a labour-intensive local development approach with wages for public works, to guarantee employment for all;
· Ensuring that programming for asset distribution takes into consideration people’s Ubudehe category (a ranking in the Government’s poverty reduction initiative) and engages specialized groups such as youth, vulnerable people and widows in programmes for marshland cultivation, provision of one cow per family, house construction, and so on.
Both broad and specific aspects of inclusiveness are observed across all nine programmes.
Each programme addresses sustainability differently. The Saemaul Volunteer Programme sows the seeds of sustainability from the beginning and views the project as a part of community. Its emphasis is on use of community resources (rather than external resources) and community leadership in planning and management of every activity. The approach has given well-deserved attention to home-grown initiatives such as Umuganda, where the community volunteers once a month for collection action. Well-funded programmes such as Saemaul Zero Hunger Communities, FONERWA and the Decentralization and Environment Management Project place their emphasis on developing a community fund through organized community structure; BIFSIR focuses on imparting entrepreneurship and vocational skills and loan support to create start-up businesses for youth and women. The Integrated Development Programme, based on experience in pilot settlements, is moving towards a demand-driven approach after developing service facilities as a sustainable way to carry forward the work. RCSP and NIRDP are forming cooperatives of farmers. For such programmes, sustainability can be strengthened early in implementation through effective use of the RCSP’s Lead Farmer concept and also by increasing the community contribution to the programme and improving access to finance.
Overall, close engagement of community organizations with Sector Offices will help to sustain the existing interventions of all ongoing projects. However, projects with large funding needs risk creating more donor dependency and less community ownership, which would adversely affect sustainability. In several cases, attention needs to be given to the management of the community development fund, to increase community capacity.
Scale up potential
Each programme has important elements (best practices) and innovations that can facilitate strategies for scaling up. At present, however, the major challenge to scaling up is that the programme designs do not provide clear, visible and specific ideas and plans for doing so. Scale up can be facilitated by SMU-related approaches and Rwanda’s home-grown initiatives solutions, as demonstrated through project experience, and can reach out to large number of communities (within and outside the project areas) or institutions who are willing to adapt programme approaches. The potential for scaling up can be found within the programmes:
· The Saemaul Volunteer Programme can contribute in the form of working through its community-driven approach of micro-projects and realistic resources planning with emphasis on community’s own contribution. The approach showcases how to reduce the huge resources requirement that obstructs scaling up.
· FONERWA can provide an approach of individual and/or community performance contracts as well as demand-driven programme support. The contracts are a tool based on a bottom-up approach that helps to move from specific project intervention to a range of multiple interventions.
· BIFSIR can offer Proximity Business Advisory Services for skills building, business proposal development and financial services.
· Emerging from BIFSIR, an innovation like the biometric system of agent banking for financial inclusion can help communities to think independently about their own development. Access to services can help break the barrier for scaling up to reach out to large number of people.
· In NIRDP, the new method of potato cultivation reduces the input requirement through appropriate research involving communities, thereby increasing access for larger numbers of people.
· SZHC as well as the Saemaul Volunteer Programme showcase the linkage of community organizations with Sector Offices for guidance, conflict resolution and engagement with government programmes. Interviews of sector-level Executive Secretaries in project areas show evidence of how the SMU approach has changed their perspective on community development. Such officials can play an effective role as messengers for scaling up the SMU approach by influencing other sectors and government officials.
· IDP’s planned settlement approach shows the positive impact of cluster creation for economies of scale. This is crucial for moving from single village development to clusters of villages in a cell or sector, and it creates potential for scaling up.
Systematized appropriately, these practices along with the home-grown solutions of Ubudehe, Umuganda and Imihigo provide a realistic SMU approach for Rwanda that is inclusive, scalable and sustainable.
Comparison of home-grown initiatives in Rwanda today with Saemaul Undong in the Republic of Korea in the 1970’s reveals similarities in terms of backdrop (e.g. high level of poverty in war-torn countries), strong national leadership, a base in the rural traditional village and support of microfinance to leverage personal resources. However, Saemaul Undong had an edge in terms of self-help and did not rely as much on external funding sources. Compared with recent project-based support in Rwanda, SMU activities thrived on community investment and loans from public financial institutions, and gave the community more control over selection and execution of interventions. Many principles of the SMU approach can be seen in Rwanda’s home-grown solutions.
The study identified a number of innovations and ideas that incorporate the best of the SMU approach and Rwanda’s home-grown initiatives including, for example, performance contracts and Proximity Business Development Advisors. Together, they can systematically provide a realistic SMU approach for Rwanda that will be inclusive, scalable and sustainable and help strengthen the decentralization process. The study concludes with a number of recommendations:
· Strengthen the community development processes in Rwanda by practicing SMU and home-grown solutions together: The home-grown solutions Ubudehe, Umuganda and Imihigo respectively bring in inclusiveness, community cohesion and community aspiration. The SMU approach promotes daily practice of these solutions by the community themselves to experience the desired change.
· Develop a clear scale up approach and plan: A major obstacle to scaling up of existing programmes and ideas is not having a clear plan about how to go about it. Also, many aspects of sustainability are interlinked with scaling up. The SMU and home-grown solutions as well as private sector have major roles to play in scaling up. Two areas of work may trigger scaling up:
― A change in the role of existing implementation agencies will stimulate scale up when they act as facilitators, knowledge managers, promoters of innovations and supporters to create an enabling environment; and
― Create ‘Saemaul Clubs’ as Community of Practice to facilitate learning and sharing practices of SMU and home-grown solutions in Rwanda, with a focus on self-reliance. UNDP, WFP and KOICA with the involvement of MINALOC can explore the possibility of developing such a forum.
· Systematize the processes, innovative models and best practices to strengthen the SMU approach in Rwanda: Analysis of existing programmes shows three best practices that can serve as potential tools for scaling up the SMU approach in Rwanda: individual and community performance contract, Proximity Business Development Advisor services and community driven micro-projects development.
· Overcome resource myopia by challenging the community and introducing innovations: Realistic planning and selection of activities prioritized by the community, along with the introduction of innovations, reduces the funding requirement. For example, when the community was challenged around marshland development for paddy cultivation in Kamonyi district, the contribution of community resources (especially labour) surpassed the project resources, and the resources used were much less than for similar work at other places. Of its own accord, the community also planned a series of other activities such as storage, record keeping and marketing.
· Integrate SMU approach in Rwanda’s community development strategy: Experiences in Rwanda have shown that the approach creates opportunities for improving the local economy. The SMU approach has the potential to contribute to the self-reliance of communities in Rwanda if its principles and tools of operation are properly incorporated in the country’s Community Development Policy and Strategy.
· The Sector Office has a critical role in promoting the SMU approach: The concept of ‘Seeing is believing’ is part of SMU. It spreads from villages to nearby areas as people observe the change and try to adopt it as they learn. The sector is a key coordinating agency for villages, and the role of Sector Offices in spreading the SMU approach becomes crucial. In Kamonyi and Nyamagabe districts, linkage of community organizations with the sector-level shows that Sector Offices understand that the role of SMU is to advance self-reliance and that it complements home-grown solutions.
· Develop basic minimum SMU standards (guidelines) for programme implementation: In order to focus on the issues of self-reliance, it may be useful to develop basic minimum standards for implementation of programmes with the SMU approach (including home-grown solutions). This is possible based on available experience in the country. KOICA along with its partners can initiate the process for the ongoing programmes (SZHC II, NIRDP, RCSP and SVP) and develop a prototype of minimum standards. Simultaneously UNDP and MINALOC along with partners like KOICA, WFP, and MINAGRI can facilitate the process to incorporate basic minimum standards to National Community Development and Local Economic Development strategy.
Facilitate easy access to finance to develop and sustain SMU initiatives: The HIMO approach has strengthened productive assets (marshland and hillside) in a process of project-supported wage work to develop these assets. Initial excitement about earning wages must contend, however, with the fact that the wage component reduces substantially after two years. It is essential to channel people’s energies and their savings from wage work and from farm income in ways that will develop sustainable livelihoods. Improve access to finance using innovations such as the biometric system of agent banking and, when projects provide wage support for two to three years, develop new financial products that help the community to promote income generation activities and establish a sustainable way forward.
 As of January 2006, as part of the national decentralization policy, the country is organized in four provinces in addition to the Kigali city, 30 Districts, 416 Sectors, 2148 Cells and 14837 Villages. www.statistics.gov.rw/survey/districts-baseline-survey