Surviving Covid-19 effects: How needy families used relief fund to fight malnutrition, boost commerce

By Elias Hakizimana.

At least 9,000 households in Nyarugenge and Kicukiro Districts benefited from relief money offered by Catholic Relief Services (CRS) to reach out beneficiaries of USAID-Gikuriro programme affected by covid-19.

Beneficiaries are current members of the programme whose children were malnourished and each one of them was handed Rwf20,000 to use in boosting children nutrition or investing in fruits and vegetable commerce.

Speaking to The Inspirer on June 5, 2020 during a press briefing, Dr Jude-Marie Banatte, CRS Country Representative said that the rationale behind the initiative is was to support the government’s programmes of Vision Umurenge Programme (VUP) where needy families need to be catered for in terms of economic and boosting welfare.

Dr Jude-Marie Banatte, CRS Country Representative and Dr Umurungi Serubibi Yvonne, Deputy Chief of Party at USAID-Gikuriro programme during a press briefing on June 5, 2020.

“Covid-19 has created economic impacts particularly in urban areas of Kigali. Moto taxi drivers, cyclists and most of workers who depends on daily income were affected. The rationale behind donating Rwf20,000 is to follow the existing government’s existing protocol in supporting poor families. We considered the VUP payment in twenty working days which is equivalent to Rwf20,000. This was to help them return in their normal life as their income went down to zero. In respect to their dignity, we found better to provide them with money,” Banatte noted.

Dr Umurungi Serubibi Yvonne, Deputy Chief of Party at USAID-Gikuriro programme said that the entire programme benefited needy families from eight districts including Nyarugenge and Kicukiro in Kigali.

“We expect to see impacts on their lives, this amount of money is to help them improve their children’s nutrition and invest in their saving groups and food commerce. Between March and April with #GumaMurugo (#StayAtHome),we chose current beneficiaries who used to meet in what we call ‘igikoni cy’umudugudu’ or village’s kitchen to learn how to prepare nutritious meal for children to avoid stunting and malnutrition.”

Beneficiaries speak out

Jacqueline Nyirangendahimana, president of Twitezimbere Shop UTC located in Karukoro village, Gasharu cell, Nyamirsambo Sector in Nyarugenge District shared the testimony before they get the relief.

“USAID-Gikuriro programme gave us Rwf20,000 during Covid-19 to help some of us with malnourished children. I encouraged my colleagues who got the fund to come and invest in commerce of nutritious food such as fruits and Vegetables. We work as a team but we can work oneself when we get enough capital. We request the donors to increase the money so that we can expand our commerce and buy more small livestock,” she said.

Mary Nizane, another beneficiary in Nyamirambo said: “ we could not do commerce because of #GumaMuRugo and our capital was low, our children were in malnutrition status and we managed to buy food for them since we got the money,”

Louis Rwagasore,52, is another beneficiary who said life changed with the relief. “We will strive to have well-nourished children by planting fruits and vegetables as per the programme’s directives,” he noted.

Annuarithe Mukankundiye, the leader of Karukoro village where the mini-market of beneficiaries is located said life of these people was in dilemma before they got the relief. “We could lack vegetables and fruits at markets because even few which were sold were expensive. With this support, they managed to invest in commerce of such nutritious food,” she said.

The programme also considered a group of women and few men who manufacture hand bags in Mageragere sector. These include Jeannette Nirere, Julienne Ishimwe and Jean d’Amour Havugimana from Kiberinka village in Nyamirambo.

Another group of women from Kicukiro district, Gikondo Sector who also sell fruits and Vegetables benefited from the programme.




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Elias Hakizimana

Elias Hakizimana, CEO&Founder of The Inspirer Ltd,( is a professional Rwandan Journalist with Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Communication, received from University of Rwanda’s College of Arts and Social Sciences (CASS) in 2014. He served various media houses in Rwanda including Rwanda Broadcasting Agency (RBA) in 2013 and became passionate with English Online and Print Media Publications where he exercised his talent as a Freelance News Reporter for The New Times, The Independent, The Rwanda Focus, Panorama and more before he became a Self-Entrepreneur as the CEO and Founder of The Inspirer Limited in early 2017.

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