UK gives Kigali $139.7 million for poverty reduction

The British government has given the government of Rwanda £82 million (US $139.7 million) in budgetary support to help the central African nation reduce its high poverty levels.

The money will support programmes specified in the government's Poverty Reduction Strategic Paper, under a new phase of support that runs from 2003 to 2006.

"We want to be as flexible as possible to help the government of Rwanda implement her policies smoothly," Cormac Quinn, the deputy programme manager of the British Department for International Development, told IRIN on Monday.

He said that up to £25 million ($42.6 million) would be made available to the government before the end of 2003 despite Rwanda failing to meet some set targets along the implementation process.

"We shall not stop the money from coming if certain targets are not met," he said. "We shall only engage them [government] through dialogue in case of any shortcomings."

During the 2000-2003 assistance phase, the British government, a principal development partner of Rwanda, gave at least £63 million ($107.3 million) to the government.

Finance and Economic Planning Minister Donald Kaberuka said that the government would channel the aid to the national poverty reduction programmes.

In addition to the direct budgetary support, the British government also gives Rwanda technical support in a bid to strengthen capacity within government institutions.

Rwanda has adopted a poverty reduction strategy that places emphasis on rural transformation - in a country where 60 percent of the people live on less than a dollar a day and 90 percent depend on agriculture.