By Jean d’Amour Mugabo
Even well about three years with the current social categories of Rwandans in use, inaccuracies in people’s categorisation dominate discussions in public meetings and informal discussions in the communities around the country.
Complaints are numerous with people saying the final report put them in categories which do not match with their living conditions and the preliminary data they had provided during the classification exercise in their localities.
“I provided data about my livelihood and was put in the first category at the village level, but the final report featured me in the third category,” says Jeanne d’Arc Muteteri, a resident of Rweru Sector of Bugesera District in the Eastern Rwanda.
The social categorisation, locally known as Ubudehe, was conducted by using a questionnaire detailing each household’s data and the village panel decided on the final category of each household, then all the reports were forwarded up to the national level for compilation. The final report was released in May, 2016, putting all citizens in four categories.
Ubudehe categories help the government and stakeholders to determine the beneficiaries of social protection programmes such as free or subsidised medical insurance, One-Cow per Family scheme, students’ scholarships, among others.
Speaking to Pan African Visions last week, Minister of State in charge of Social Affairs and Social Protection at the Ministry of Local Government, Dr Alvera Mukabaramba said the population categorisation exercise is starting soon and new categories will be ready by June for use in the next financial year starting with July.
“We should be having new categories by June. We are still deliberating on the changes we need to make both in the number of categories and the criteria. We want to do consultations with stakeholders and the general public before embarking on the categorisation. We also ask you, the media, to help us in engaging and collecting citizens’ views,” she said.
CSO, citizens call for sub-categories
The current four categories were expected to correct errors in the previous categorisation which consisted of six categories but a number of inaccuracies have given headache to many, saying the local leaders are reluctant to adjust to the factual data. The citizens say that the exercise needs a complete overhaul in the next revisions which are expected to occur every three years.
Pierre Célestin Niwemwungeri, a teacher in Gatsibo District of the Eastern Province, said the next Ubudehe categorisation exercise should be conducted carefully to avoid technicalities by local leaders.
“Local leaders put some people in the categories of the rich in order to show that they have delivered on poverty alleviation when in fact they have not,” he said.
Immaculée Ingabire, the Chairperson of Transparency International Rwanda, says the current Ubudehe categorisation criteria are wrong due to the fact that they do not consider the value of people’s meals or one’s house.
“They will just come asking if one eats twice a day, has a house or livestock but they do not care whether the property is worth billions or a few thousands of francs. This should change to have sub-categories like Category Four a, b, c, d,…depending on one’s livelihoods,” she said.
Ingabire adds some local leaders deliberately put people in wrong categories in order to shield their failure on delivering on poverty alleviation programmes while some people bribe local leaders for being given advantageous categories.
These concerns were reiterated by Jean Léonard Sekanyange, the Chairperson of Rwanda Civil Society Platform, saying that sub-categories are needed under each category in order to get any household the appropriate classification.
“Government should do broad consultations before starting the exercise. Local leaders should respect the set criteria and put people in their factual categories. It is not mandatory that every area gets people into all categories, it is possible somewhere to get none in category one or four. We urge citizens to participate in exercise and be truthful with the data they provide,” he said.
Current Ubudehe categories
The current social or Ubudehe categories are four with Category Three featuring 53.7 per cent of all the 2,358,488 households countrywide.
Category One groups the very poor who do not have a house or cannot pay rent, have a poor diet, and cannot get basic household tools and clothes. Category Two groups those who have their own houses or can afford to rent a house; mostly get food and earn a wage from working with others.
In Category Three are those who have at least one person in the family working in the government or the private sector. It also includes farmers who even reserve for market or those with small and medium enterprises while the fourth category comprises big businessmen, people working in organisations, industries or companies, public employees, owners of malls, trucks or big employers.