Bishop of Durham asks about the welfare of older people and children in Rwanda

On 13th and 14th February 2020 the Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, received written answers to questions about Rwanda and Tearfund’s report into older people:
The Lord Bishop of Durham:  HL1253 To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the report by Tearfund Ageing in Rwanda, published on 25 January.

Baroness Sugg: Tearfund’s research report on ageing in Rwanda is an important contribution to a growing evidence base on changing demographics in Rwanda. It complements UK Aid funded research looking at the implications of ageing and demographic change in Rwanda. Tearfund’s report highlights the unique nature and speed of the demographic transition in Rwanda, a result of rapid improvements in life expectancy and a reduction in the fertility rate. While this is likely to provide opportunities in the future, the large growth in the number of older people will also create challenges; many of which, as the report clearly outlines, are being experienced by older people in Rwanda today. These include unmet mental health needs arising from loss, trauma and bereavement as well as vulnerability exacerbated by gaps in social protection, health and care services. DFID engaged in the dissemination event for this report in Kigali and will draw on findings from the research to further strengthen its work on social protection, agriculture and livelihoods to respond to the needs of older people in Rwanda.

 The Lord Bishop of Durham: HL1254 To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the report by Tearfund Ageing in Rwanda, published on 25 January, what plans they have, if any, to ‘age-proof’ UK international development policies.
Baroness Sugg: As the Tearfund report recognises, there is more work to do to ensure older people are actively included in international development policies and resources. DFID’s vision is a world where all people, in all stages of their lives, are engaged, empowered and able to exercise their rights. Age is an important factor in our efforts to tackle extreme poverty, ensure inclusion and in our approach to ‘leave no-one behind’. DFID ensures that issues of age, gender and disability are included in all UK international development policies. For example, DFID’s Disability Inclusion Strategy and Strategic Vision for Gender Equality take a life-course approach, ensuring the delivery of transformative change for people all ages.

The Lord Bishop of Durham: HL1255 To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the report by Tearfund Ageing in Rwanda, published on 25 January, what plans they have, if any, to distribute foreign aid cross-generationally in Rwanda.
 Baroness Sugg: UK Aid in Rwanda responds directly to the Global Goals for Sustainable Development, which aim to eradicate extreme poverty and ensure that no one is left behind. In Rwanda, DFID is tackling vulnerabilities and exclusion at all stages of life; from early childhood, through school and adolescence into adulthood and older age. DFID Rwanda’s new £64.5 million programme to support the social protection sector includes explicit objectives to address old-age vulnerabilities, as highlighted in the Tearfund ‘Ageing in Rwanda’ report. Furthermore, given that many older people continue working past the official retirement age of 65, our support to older people is also integrated into broader interventions such as improving agricultural productivity and livelihoods in Rwanda.

The Lord Bishop of Durham: HL1256 To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they assess the effectiveness of UK aid in Rwanda for Rwandans over the age of 60.
 Baroness Sugg: Assessing the effectiveness of our work is a key priority for DFID, in order to ensure that our programmes achieve their intended results and that they contribute to the Global Sustainable Development Goals across our programming. One of the key means of supporting older Rwandans is through the social protection sector which DFID Rwanda has supported for over a decade. We have made strides in addressing the vulnerabilities of older people. As part of our most recent social protection programme in Rwanda (2013 – 2018), DFID’s support enabled the expansion of support to households living in poverty with no capacity to work – the vast majority of which are older people – to cover all 416 sectors in Rwanda and more than tripling the number of beneficiary households reached. DFID Rwanda’s new £64.5 million programme to support social protection provision in Rwanda also aims to better address specific vulnerabilities and support Rwanda’s longer-term policy objectives to implement an old-age pension.

The Lord Bishop of Durham: HL1355 To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the government of Rwanda following the publication of the report by Human Rights Watch “As long as we live on the streets, they will beat us”: Rwanda’s abusive detention of children, published on 27 January, which claims that Rwandan authorities are formalising their abusive arrests and detention of vulnerable children under the pretence of rehabilitation.
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: We are aware of the Human Rights Watch report “As Long as We Live on the Streets, They Will Beat Us”, published on 27 January, which we are currently reviewing. We urge the Government of Rwanda to abide by its international human rights obligations, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which Rwanda ratified in 1991. The UK regularly raises human rights issues in our discussions with the Government of Rwanda. The Prime Minister most recently met President Kagame in the margins of the Africa Investment Summit in January.
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