Survivors Fund (SURF) statement on decision of the UK Department for International Development (DfID) to withhold aid to Rwanda
The decision today of the UK Secretary of State for International Development, Justine Greening, to withhold aid to Rwanda in light of allegations of Rwanda’s involvement in the ongoing conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has the potential to have significant repercussions for survivors as well as other vulnerable and marginalised populations in Rwanda which have received support through projects funded by DfID.
Of critical importance is that DFID monitors the effects of the withholding of aid, to ensure that the effects to such populations are minimised. As Professor Paul Collier has commented “over the last five years a million Rwandans – one in five of those who were poor – have been lifted out of poverty. This rate of poverty reduction is the fastest ever achieved in Africa and equals the best achieved globally. Britain’s major aid programme to the country has been central to that success.”
The challenge then is to ensure that this development is not jeopardised, for the sake of the survivors which SURF directly supports, and all of Rwanda. As Ms Greening has stated herself in her responses to Parliament last week, though Rwanda has made great progress in reducing poverty, there are still an estimated five million people living in extreme poverty.
To continue to make progress on poverty alleviation in Rwanda requires the combined efforts of both Government and civil society in Rwanda. In light of this decision, the challenge will be to demonstrate how this will be made possible.
This decision though does not impact on the funding which Survivors Fund (SURF) receives from DfID through the Global Poverty Action Fund (GPAF) for our Widowed Survivors Empowerment Project (WSEP) which is to be maintained. It relates specifically to bilateral aid for direct budget support to the Government of Rwanda.