International Development Committee - UK Aid to RwandaWritten evidence from the Department for International Development

Introduction

1. The International Development Committee is to examine the decision by the Department for International Development (DFID) to withhold, and subsequently partially disburse, general budget support to the Government of Rwanda following allegations about its involvement with the M23 rebel group in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

2. On 5 January 2012, the Committee published a report entitled, “Working effectively in fragile and conflict-affected states: DRC and Rwanda.” This included thirteen clear recommendations on building improved resilience through aid and humanitarian programmes, ensuring the most vulnerable and hard to reach benefit and working with a broad range of partners to deliver as effectively as possible. DFID appreciates this report and is continuing to follow up on these recommendations, including in Rwanda.

3. The current reports on Rwanda’s involvement in eastern DRC are deeply concerning and the UK Government is looking carefully at the evidence whilst holding regular and frank conversations with the Government of Rwanda.

4. The UK Government remains committed to helping the people of Rwanda to lift themselves out of poverty. Rwanda is home to five million poor people and we know that delaying or suspending aid often only hurts the poorest. Through the DFID programme, it is planned that between 2011 and 2015 the UK Government will provide direct support for 135,200 of Rwanda’s poorest people each year, help register the land of 4 million men and women to give their families and businesses greater stability, distribute a million bed-nets, and help 45,000 children to complete basic education. For further information on what DFID is doing in Rwanda please see Annex B, which provides an excerpt from the DFID Rwanda Operational Plan.

5. The Government of Rwanda has a strong track record of using aid money effectively to lift its citizens out of poverty. The economic growth and development results that Rwanda has delivered over the last five years have been remarkable. For example, between 2005 and 2010 the proportion of the Rwandan population identified as poor reduced by 12 percentage points to 45%. On education, Rwanda is now recording net enrolment rates into primary education at 92% (compared with 76% across Sub-Saharan Africa) and on health under five mortality levels decreased to 54 deaths per 1000 live births1 from 152 in 2005.

Decisions on Budget Support Disbursement

6. Two disbursements of general budget support were planned to the Government of Rwanda for 201213. The first disbursement, originally planned for July, was cut in half in early September (from £16 million to £8 million) to reflect the UK Government’s concerns regarding the situation in the eastern DRC. The remaining £8 million was reallocated to programmes which seek to improve service delivery in the education and agriculture sectors. The Secretary of State will consider the matter of budget support very carefully ahead of the next decision point (on a further £21 million) in December.

7. The previous Secretary of State delayed the disbursement of the first tranche of General Budget Support in early July because, following the release of the draft Group of Experts report, the UK Government wanted assurances that Rwanda was adhering to our partnership principles. He visited the Kivus region of DRC and Rwanda in mid-July and underscored the need for dialogue—including between Presidents Kabila and Kagame—to resolve this crisis.

8. Over the remainder of July and August, the UK Government assessed that the Government of Rwanda had engaged constructively in the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) peace talks chaired by President Museveni of Uganda. An informal ceasefire resulted in a significant lull in fighting for the four weeks prior to the decision to disburse at the beginning of September. 

9. As a result of this progress, combined with the ongoing strong economic development and poverty reduction focus and results in Rwanda, the UK Government judged that the Government of Rwanda had partially met the DFID partnership principles. In particular, it had continued to demonstrate strong commitment to reducing poverty and improving its financial management.

10. The previous Secretary of State provided a written statement to Parliament on the 4th September to explain the decision to disburse half of the delayed general budget support and redirect the other £8 million to programmes in the education and agriculture sectors (see Box 1 for the results that will be delivered through the £8 million redirected to these sectors). The statement explained that “this decision reflects our responsibility to protect the poor, but also caution as concerns remain over Rwanda’s involvement with the M23 rebels.”

11. The UK remains concerned about the reports of Rwanda’s involvement with the M23 rebels. The UK Government has had several very frank conversations with the Rwandan Government underlining that Rwanda must do more to meet our joint partnership principles in full and play a constructive role in bringing about a peaceful resolution to the crisis in eastern DRC. It should work with others to seek long term resolution of the issues affecting the region.

Box 1: The additional money redirected to the education and agriculture sectors will deliver clear results for the people of Rwanda.

The Education Service Delivery Grant (£5 million) will deliver:

The construction of about 800 classrooms which will support about 60,480 pupils in primary and lower secondary school.

The procurement of 400,000 textbooks for use in primary and lower secondary school.

The Agriculture Service Delivery Grant (£3 million) will deliver:

Provision of fertilizers to increase the production of key food security crops by about 250,000 metric tonnes.

Protection of approximately 2,400 families from the destruction of crops and livestock through a land management programme.

Comment on the UN Group of Experts Final Report

12. The summary of UN Group of Experts’ annual report on the situation in eastern DRC has been leaked. The next step is for the Group of Experts to brief the UN Sanctions Committee (expected 12 November). The report could remain confidential or be formally made public at a point thereafter. The full report will, however, form an important part of the evidence that the Secretary of State will consider in advance of her December decision on budget support to Rwanda.

November 2012

1 Committing to Child Survival: A Promise Renewed – UNICEF 2012

Prepared 30th November 2012