Empowering vulnerable genocide widows

28 May 2020

SURF submitted in May its report on the first year of its 18-month project in the Karongi District, western Rwanda. The project aims to empower 400 vulnerable genocide widows and 1,200 of their dependents, alleviating the women’s poverty by giving them the skills, resources and confidence to generate income.

During the first year, the organisation implemented both individual and group counselling support. Women formed Income Generating Activity (IGA) groups, received entrepreneurship training, and established savings groups. Genocide widows were assisted in increasing their nutritional intake through kitchen gardens. Affordable energy was also provided through solar lights and cooking stoves.

SURF reported that 318 women and 71 men had received both individual and group counselling.  25 IGA (421 women and 149 men) groups participated in entrepreneurship training. 11 income-generating activities were established with 233 beneficiaries (144 women and 89 men). Through these activities, members’ savings increased from CHF 2,640 to CHF 10,325, an increase of 291%. 80 HIV-positive widows received kitchen gardens, helping them to increase their nutritional intake.

Despite the COVID-19 lockdown the project is progressing as scheduled, although some activities are temporarily suspended, notably those involving the distribution of business loans. In response to the COVID 19 lockdown, SURF assisted beneficiaries to buy livestock during the lockdown and provided them with additional nutrition support.