FARG sheds light on mismanagement of funds allocated to beneficiaries of ‘One Dollar Campaign’

On 16 September 2021 at 12:31

The Auditor General has revealed that ‘One Dollar Campaign Project’ is among several projects of the Genocide Survivors Assistance Fund (FARG) that were not successfully implemented to reach anticipated outcomes where some beneficiaries are reported to have disappeared after sharing funds allocated for joint income generating activities.

The revelations came out on Wednesday 15th September 2021 as FARG appeared before the Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to respond to mismanagement issues reported during implementation of the aforementioned project.

During the session, it emerged that the funds provided to four group beneficiaries sheltered in One-dollar campaign complex were poorly managed.

The Auditor General (AG)’s report indicated that FARG provided Rwf81,000,000 funding to four groups comprised of 81 beneficiaries sheltered in the housing unit built under One-dollar campaign project (ODCP).

ODCP is a charity initiative started by members of the Rwandan Diaspora in 2008 to mobilise a symbolic one dollar each to raise money to provide shelter for Genocide survivors.

Initially, beneficiaries received Rwf48, 600,000 with a promise to receive more funds after presenting how best the first installment was utilized.

The previous inspection held in February 2021, indicated that two groups received Rwf12, 600,000 and 12,000,000 respectively but did not operate.

There was also a delay in implementation of projects worth Rwf12, 000,000 for one of the four groups that received funding. It is reported that the group started implementation eight months later after receiving funds.

The AG’s report revealed that beneficiaries in one of the four groups shared received funds worth Rwf12, 000,000 instead of using them for intended purpose.

The Director General of FARG, Julienne Uwacu explained that individuals who shared the money had pitched ideas of selling of agricultural produce.

FARG entered agreement with the Association of Graduate Genocide Survivors (GAERG) to follow up their project.

Uwacu said that details of sharing funds emerged when an inspection was carried out following beneficiaries’ request to get the second installment.

“They kept telling us that businesses are still operational. We visited them and refrained from releasing the remaining 40% after realizing that their businesses are not sustainable. The group did not yield intended results because it was split that every member went his/her own way to live in desired favorite places,” she revealed.

Parliamentarian Germaine Mukabalisa said that there should have been proactive measures to prevent the loss and monitor beneficiaries on daily basis.

Emmanuel Munyangondo, the Director of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation at FARG explained that they followed up beneficiaries but failed to reach out to some of them.

“One of them submitted identifications that he stays in Ntongwe sector of Ruhango district. He gave us contacts that we planned field visits which failed at different times because the beneficiary used to switch off his phone upon arrival in the area,” he said.

The Chairperson of PAC, Valens Muhakwa questioned the response wondering how assigned team failed to reach out to a person living in Rwanda.

“Failing to reach out to people in Rwanda…how come? Does it mean that you delegated someone and came back telling you that he /she didn’t find beneficiaries?”

Mukabalisa also said that it is not reasonable ‘to provide 60% of the total funds without knowing where the beneficiaries are located’.

“How come that a beneficiary disappears when there is an inspection to follow up project implementation. Doesn’t the case involve funds embezzlement?”

The AG’s report indicated that FARG allocated Rwf1, 076,000.000 in 2012/2013 to different districts to support 1065 cooperatives involved in income generating activities.

The implementation has however been characterized by irregularities due to lacking reports on the project’s progress.

The majority of funded projects encountered losses. For instance, 393 projects worth Rwf325, 400,000 an equivalent to 37 percent of all funded projects were not successfully implemented while 35 of them worth Rwf27, 700,000 failed with no clear reasons.

FARG also allocated Rwf49, 500,000 to support 99 small income generating projects.

Each of these projects was supposed to receive Rwf500, 000 but 25 of 73 visited projects halted activities due to various reasons including sickness and use of funds to cater for household needs among others.

Among others, auditors established that 15 beneficiary groups that received Rwf7, 500,000 changed their business models without go ahead from FARG.

Unrecovered funds

The audit carried out in 2019 indicated that Rwf358, 434,000 that FARG had allocated for lucrative projects were misused and had to be recovered.

Another audit held in March 2021 showed that the funds had not yet been recovered despite ongoing efforts in collaboration with Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB).

The Director General of FARG, Uwacu explained that funds allocated to support projects owned by vulnerable survivors of the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi were released following a viable study.

Some beneficiaries implemented businesses different from initially pitched ones. Part of the funds was recovered waiting for the rest to return the money.

Parliamentarian Jean Rene Niyorurema said that beneficiaries used to receive funds without prior training which might have triggered inefficiency.

Uwacu explained that beneficiaries were trained before and received funds in their respective groups through collaboration with grassroots leaders.

MP Germaine Mukabalisa said that the ineffective execution should not only be attributed to beneficiaries but also the committee assigned to oversee these projects that did not fulfill their duties.

The Vice Chairperson of PAC, Beline Uwineza also raised queries to understand stakeholders behind the failure and their actions triggering inefficiency.

Uwacu admitted that FARG is also involved ‘because we would have achieved goals for which the fund was established, had we implemented projects smoothly to transform beneficiaries’ lives. We are responsible for this along with partners.

'One Dollar Campaign' complex shelters Genocide orphans.