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Rwandan Government launches Imibereho Dynamic Social Registry

Rwandan Government launches Imibereho Dynamic Social Registry

From the left, Peter Kagabo, Journalist Rwanda Broadcasting Agency (RBA), Regis Hitimana, Chief Benefits Officer RSSB, Claudine Nyinawagaga, Director General LODA, Innocent Muhizi, CEO RISA, and Samuel Dusengiyumva, Lord Mayor City of Kigali. Copyright: MINALOC RWANDA

Rwanda has developed a national dynamic social registry that is interoperable with many other government systems and allows for on-demand data updates by citizens.

On February 29, 2024, the Rwandan government launched a pioneering initiative, the Imibereho Dynamic Social Registry System. This state-of-the-art system was introduced at a well-attended event at the Kigali Marriott Hotel, drawing local government officials, World Bank Rwanda representatives, GIZ Rwanda, other development partners, and a large press corps. The launch marked a significant milestone in Rwanda’s commitment to enhancing its social protection framework.

Significant Remarks at the Launch

Jean Claude Musabyimana, the Minister of Local Government, outlined the potential impacts of the Imibereho System in his opening address. ‘This robust social registry will significantly bolster the delivery of various government programmes, including cash transfers, social services, and other livelihood programmes, thereby enhancing the well-being of our citizens,’ His Excellency Minister Musabyimana stated. He emphasised that Imibereho would improve the targeting of beneficiaries for flagship social protection programmes like the Vision Umurenge Programme (VUP), Community-based Health Insurance (CBHI), One Cow per Family, and other sectoral initiatives, which would also minimize citizen discontent.

Sahr Kpundeh, the World Bank Country Manager in Rwanda, lauded the government’s efforts in strengthening social protection. ‘The World Bank is committed to enhancing human capital utilisation, with a focus on youth and women’s employment and urban social protection,’ Kpundeh explained. He noted that Imibereho serves both a social and operational role, unifying platforms to target the most vulnerable and enabling real-time crisis response interventions.

Why Rwanda needs a sophisticated Social Registry

In today’s rapidly evolving world, it is crucial for governments to establish efficient social protection systems that prioritise the well-being of vulnerable populations. Social registries support the efficient targeting and delivery of numerous government programmes, including cash transfers, social pensions, social services, emergency assistance, education and training programmes, and subsidized health insurance.

Imibereho, a comprehensive database, contains information on the socio-economic characteristics of all Rwandan households. It helps the government identify eligible households for social protection programmes. Initially targeting households for the VUP and determining payments for CBHI, Imibereho will gradually extend to other government and non-government social programmes.

Replacing Ubudehe: A Strategic Move

Launch Of Imiberebere Social Registry System, Kagugu Cell Web
Households’ registration during the launch of the Imibereho system in Kagugu Cell, City of Kigali on January 17, 2024. Copyright: MINALOC Rwanda

Imibereho has replaced the previous home-grown targeting solution, Ubudehe classification, which had been in use since 2000. Ubudehe involved classifying households into different categories at the village level to target them for various social programmes. However, this system was plagued by malpractices as citizens sought to be placed in the lowest category to receive more substantial government and NGO support, despite their actual socio-economic status. This led to inclusion and exclusion errors in the selection of beneficiaries, prompting the shift to a more reliable and transparent social registry.

The transition from Ubudehe targeting to social registry targeting is a strategic move to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of social protection programmes. Previously, different social programmes were implemented with low synergy or linkages, leading to duplication and multiple data collections by different institutions. Imibereho aims to harmonise the implementation of these programmes, thereby increasing targeting efficiency, reducing duplication and administrative costs, improving identification of programme beneficiaries, and informing decision-making on programme design, coverage, and delivery.

Database Utilisation: Identifying Eligible Individuals

The Imibereho Social Registry System serves as a comprehensive repository that captures essential demographic and socio-economic information about all Rwandan individuals and households. This wealth of information empowers policymakers, enabling them to gain a clear understanding of the diverse needs and vulnerabilities of the population. Insights derived from this data, will guide the design and implementation of effective social protection measures.

Using data from the system and applying an econometric formula known as the household welfare scorecard, Imibereho generates poverty rankings of all Rwandan households. Based on this list and specific criteria for each social protection programme, the system can generate eligibility lists of beneficiaries for different programmes.

Responsiveness and Real-time Data Utilisation

One of the most remarkable aspects of the Imibereho Social Registry System is its increased responsiveness due to its real-time capability to update and maintain accurate information. This feature ensures that the database remains reliable and relevant, enabling policymakers to make well-informed decisions based on the current socio-economic situation of the population. By continuously capturing and updating data, the system ensures that individuals and households in need are not left behind and receive the necessary support in a timely manner.

A pioneering step in this direction has been taken through data integration. The data in the Imibereho Social Registry System is validated through requisite cross-checks with other government databases, including the National ID Agency (NIDA), the Local Administrative Entities Development Agency´s (LODA) and its Monitoring and Evaluation Information System (MEIS), and Rwanda’s Health Monitoring Information System (HMIS). It also allows for automatic updates in the social registry. For example, through integration with the Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (CRVS) system, the registry of a birth here will automatically also be updated in the social registry.

Katharina Diekmann, GIZ’ Social Protection Rwanda Project Lead in Rwanda, commends the Rwandan government for developing a national dynamic social registry that is designed to be interoperable with many other government systems and allows for on-demand data updates by citizens.

‘The dynamic social registry ensures that data on all households is always up to date and can therefore be used to plan and target all social programmes, including in response to major shocks.’

German Expertise in Strengthening Digital Social Protection

The collaboration between GIZ and the World Bank brings extensive experience in supporting partner countries like Rwanda in strengthening digital social protection systems, such as the Imibereho Social Registry System and Digital Payments. This collaboration aims to facilitate the development of institutional and digital infrastructure, empowering governments to lead, steer, administer, and implement effective social protection systems. It also entails strengthening local governance and implementation capacities.

Data Sharing Chart

Outlook: Rwanda’s Continued Transformation

The introduction of the Imibereho Social Registry System represents a significant leap towards ensuring social protection and inclusivity for all citizens. By harnessing the power of data and technology, policymakers can fine-tune and target social protection measures, ensuring that the most vulnerable individuals and households receive the support they deserve. Furthermore, the system’s capability to constantly update and adapt enables Rwanda to cater to the ever-changing needs and challenges of its population.

The Social Protection Project (SPP) as part of the GIZ Global Alliances for Social Protection (GASP) is excited to witness the launch of the Imibereho social registry in Rwanda. This innovative initiative, led by the Ministry of Local Government and supported by the World Bank and GIZ, marks a significant step towards efficient planning and identification of eligible individuals for social programmes. The unique feature of Imibereho, which allows for continuous data updates initiated by citizens themselves, and its ability to share data with other government systems, ensures real-time information. With Imibereho, Rwanda has emborked on a transformative journey. Katharina Diekmann and her team are proud to be a part of this undertaking and the positive societal impact that Imibereho will undoubtedly bring.  

Jean de Dieu Habakwizera, April 2024

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