Rwanda Launches $6 million Project to Advance Citizen Engagement

Kigali, 22nd September 2021 – The Governments  of Rwanda and Japan in collaboration with World Bank, Spark Microgrants, and Comic Relief today launched a $6 million project to strengthen citizen engagement, and support livelihoods and income-generation in rural areas.

The Advancing Citizen Engagement Project (ACE) project aims to support small businesses to improve livelihoods for around 76,000 people— half of whom will be women— across 249 rural poor villages through small grants. The project will also provide training and support to government officials at the national and local level on how to engage citizens in local development planning. Working in partnership with the Ministry of Local Government, this practical experience will inform a new national framework on participatory village planning.  


The government of Rwanda is committed to strengthening decentralization and empowering citizens. This project will enhance our platforms for participation at the local level, building the capacity of local and national government authorities to lead development planning at the village level that involves and empowers all Rwandese.” Said Claudine Marie Solange Nyinawagaga, Director General of the Local Administrative Entities Development Agency (LODA),


By strengthening communication between government and community members, the project will also generate welfare benefits through increased uptake of government social protection programs by the rural poor. 


Citizen engagement is critical to strengthening grassroots participation and sustainable rural livelihoods in Rwanda,” said World Bank Country Manager, Rolande Pryce. “The support this project will provide to local businesses will also help people in the rural districts to recover from the impacts of COVID-19.”  


ACE will be implemented in Burera, Gakenke, Gicumbi, and Huye Districts, where Spark Microgrants, the implementing agency, will work hand-in-hand with local government offices to implement the project. Each village will benefit from support to plan and implement community-selected projects. District governments   will contribute 5% of the funds for every village grant. 


Of the total project proceeds $2.73 million is a grant from the World Bank administered Japan Social Development Fund (JSDF), which seeks to empower poor and vulnerable groups not reached by other programs and improve their lives through direct benefits.


“In the event of an unprecedented crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic, it is the rural population and other vulnerable groups that are most affected. In this project, more than half of the grant will go directly to small-scale, co-managed livelihood improvement activities that are essential to revive rural economies affected by the pandemic” said Masahiro Imai, Japanese Ambassador for Rwanda. “This is fully in line with JSDF’s philosophy of supporting community-driven development and poverty reduction projects.” 


Comic Relief, a UK based major charity organization that works across Africa, and in the UK, will channel the entire JSDF grant to Spark Microgrants, a non-governmental organization that has been operating in Rwanda since 2010. Spark Microgrants, which is presently working in 135 villages across the country, will implement the project in two of Rwanda’s five provinces (Northern and Southern provinces) where it has a successful track record of implementing community-based development programs with local governments. They will hold weekly meetings with villages, supporting the identification of livelihood projects, and build villagers’ capacity for procurement, banking and record-keeping. Comic Relief will also provide complementary funding of $3.3 million to Spark to support the project, which includes additional support from four private foundations channeled through Comic Relief. The funds will support one technical advisor per village to help optimize project equality and success. 



Spark Microgrants: Shai Fogelson,

World Bank: Rogers Kayihura, (250) 252 591 303,

Japan Social Development Fund: Helena Nkole,


For more information about Spark Microgrants visit:

For more information about the World Bank’s work in Rwanda visit:

For more information about IDA, please visit:




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