Accepted paper:

Social protection and state-society relations in Rwanda


Timothy Williams (University of Manchester)
Sylvestre Nzahabwanayo (University of Rwanda, College of Education)

Paper short abstract:

We examine how sub-national factors shape social protection provisioning in Rwanda. Drawing from case studies in two districts with distinct histories of state formation, findings show how intra-state differences can be explained through sub-national historical, regional, and political context.

Paper long abstract:

Since coming to power after the 1994 genocide, Rwanda's ruling party has promoted inclusive development. An important aspect of the RPF's strategy has been to expand social transfers and health insurance. This paper assesses the degree to which sub-national variation in state capacity and state-society relations within Rwanda shapes implementation of the VUP, in particular the distribution and targeting of resources. The study draws from detailed qualitative fieldwork to examine the implementation of social provisioning in two districts: Rubavu District (northwest Rwanda) and Huye District (south). The destructive legacy of the genocide and intense state-building efforts undertaken under the RPF since that time have led to a reversal of longer-term state formation trajectories: Social protection programs were generally more successful in Rubavu than Huye. Since 1994 the RPF has focused considerable efforts to incorporate the northwest into the party-led development project, in part due to the fact that this region had been reluctant to incorporate to the pre-1994 state building project and the ongoing security threat posed by its proximity to the Congolese border. Huye, by contrast, was severely affected by violence of the genocide and continue to suffer from its social and economic aftereffects. Study findings suggest that social protection was implemented differently across the two districts and that differences can be explained, in large part, by the underpinning state-society relations that underly the sub-national historical, regional, and political context.

panel M2
The politics of implementing social protection programmes: political competition, state capacity and policy feedback [paper]