The Ministry of local Government in partnership with United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) has launched a new project that will focus on building community resilience and sustainable food security.
The US$8 million project dubbed “Sustainable Market Alliance and Assets creation for Resilient Communities and Gender Transformation (SMART) Project” was officially unveiled by Prof. Anastase Shyaka, the Minister of Local government (Minaloc) through a Webex event held this Thursday December 17, 2020 in Kigali.
The 3- year project will benefit over 180,000 citizens in Karongi, Rutsiro, Nyamagabe, Nyaruguru and Kayonza districts.
It is also a follow up on an earlier partnership in which WFP, KOICA and Minaloc first began with the successful “Saemaul Zero Hunger Communities Project”, piloted from 2012 to 2015 and later scaled-up from 2016 to 2018 to additional districts.
Through the “Saemaul Zero Hunger Communities Project”, over 600 hectares of terracing was constructed.
As a result, food production on the terraced land has more than tripled and over 80 hectares of marshlands were rehabilitated, and feeder roads were constructed to facilitate access to markets and through a revolving fund provided to participants with capital for small-scale business investments to promote off-farm activities.
Through the SMART project, WFP will focus on developing climate-resilient community assets such as land terraces, marshland rehabilitation, and improved small-scale irrigation systems to build community resilience to natural shocks such as drought, flooding, and landslides.
This will be combined with the provision of agricultural inputs, training for farmers, and support to better access markets in order to generate lasting improvements in livelihoods and food security.
Unlike the previous projects, this time around, community members and local government officials in participating districts took part in consultation sessions to prioritise project activities which are designed with a gender-sensitive approach, including the integration of mobile nurseries for childcare to support women’s participation and need for gender awareness sensitisation and training.
Prof Shyaka said that launching the current SMART project is a testimony of existing good collaboration between the partners and was impressed by the projects methodology.
“I particularly welcome the methodology which was adopted, during the design of the project whereby intensive consultations were held to ensure local context and community aspirations are captured. This is key foundation for SMART to deliver sustainable development of beneficiary communities and districts,” said Shyaka.
Chon Gyong Shik, KOICA Rwanda Country Director, said that Rwanda was the first country to receive KOICA’s support to rural communities and the success of the previous projects with Rwanda having won the best practice award for its integrated rural development interventions, this project will support achieving ‘Zero Hunger’ and gender equality, through improved access to food, more productive and sustainable agricultural land and improved access to markets.
Edith Heines, WFP Representative and Country Director also noted that many communities across Rwanda have been economically impacted by the outbreak of COVID-19 and the SMART project will play an integral role in enhancing community resilience during and after the coronavirus pandemic, which is also in line with the Government’s Covid-19 Recovery Plan.
The SMART project builds on best practices from Korea’s rural development model, the Government of Rwanda’s Vision Umurenge Programme (VUP), and WFP’s asset creation and smallholder farmer market support model to improve household food security and enhance community resilience.
The project is aligned with the Rwanda’s National Strategy for Transformation (NST, 2017–2024) and also aligns with the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resource’s strategic plan for agriculture transformation 2018 – 2024 as well as the Social Protection Sector Strategic Plan 2018/2019 -2023/2024.