Rwanda: Community-Led Development Programmes Recommended

The New Times (Kigali)

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Eugene Kwibuka

The Rwanda Initiative for Sustainable Development (RISD) Tuesday urged development partners in the country to let people at grassroots level own their development plans in order to improve their livelihoods.

This was at the launch of RISD's book "TOWARDS SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT: CYERU EXPERIENCE" at Hotel Novotel. In the book, RISD compiled its initiatives and results in helping residents of Cyeru Village out of poverty.

Cyeru Village is a grouped settlement (locally known as Umudugudu) located in Kabugondo Cell, Mugina Sector, Kamonyi District, in the Southern Province.

It was a mere forest when Rwandans from without and within the country started inhabiting it after the 1994 war and Genocide in Rwanda.

RISD made it clear that what people need is capacity building in order to help them change their attitudes and help themselves.

"Make them feel that they can do things by themselves. They should feel like it is their own initiative and it is up to them to implement," said Annie Kairaba, the director of RISD.

Kairaba said that what is written in the document they launched will be a reference for use by other development activists.

She also said that when RISD went out to help the residents of Cyeru village, they asked them to make their wish-list and to set aside the problems they thought they would be able to solve.

The result was that they were able to put most of the problems they had among those they would be able to solve.

She explained that residents of Cyeru village were able to start projects that improved their lives after only long term and low cost trainings they received from RISD seven years ago in 2000.

"What they need most is change of attitude and that's what RISD has worked on," she explained.

Jean-Marie Munyanziza, one of the people who benefited from the NGO's support, said that if shown how things are done, local people can work.

"I think the people of Cyeru are now well-off," he acknowledged.

Munyanziza leads COODEVICYE, a cooperative that brings together 92 members from Cyeru village for their development. He said that every member of the cooperative earns at least Rwf 8,000 per month from farming and agriculture.

Some Cyeru residents said that though they appreciate having a school and hospital near their village, they need more enlightenment on developmental issues in order to completely get out of poverty.

"What is important is capacity building. For example, you can't know how to use money when no one advised you on this," said Prisca Mukabarisa, a member of COODEVICYE. Today, after attending different trainings offered by RISD, every month she saves about Rwf 1000 in a bank.

RISD is a local Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) that advocates for sustainable development.

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It's programmes in the Cheru village included teaching residents how to manage projects and use loan money, agricultural and farming techniques, good governance principles and prevention of diseases like HIV/AIDS.

Jean-Louis Kayitenkore
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