Rwanda’s national dialogue opens to push for poverty end

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President Paul Kagame addressing the dialogue in December 2013

KIGALI, RwandaDec. 17, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — Eight years ago, Claude Ndayisenga a frustrated resident of Nyagatare district,Rwanda, had had enough of dark nights and limited public services due to lack of access to electricity.

One day, he was offered an opportunity to complain directly to his President.

In December 2007 the 5th National Dialogue Council, chaired by President Paul Kagame and attended by over 900 delegates, was taking place. As usual, it brought together politicians, businesspeople and Rwandans from the diaspora.

While following the debate from his Mimuri village on national radio, Ndayisenga composed a text message and sent to an open line that had been provided to those not at the venue in Kigali.

It read: “Mr. President, I…request you to give us electricity in our village…why have we remained in darkness?” As always, the minister responsible was put to task to explain. It was decided in the forum that this village and others would have power. Mimuri village was immediately connected to the grid.

Ndayisenga’s experience tells a story of Rwanda’s initiative that has become a source of several policies. The dialogue, locally known as “Umushyikirano” created in 2003 shortly after President Kagame’s first election, is a platform to participate in discussions on national development.

Countless policies have emerged. For example local officials have to put contacts on the door for anyone to report bad service delivery. The free-milk program in schools was initiated from the dialogue too.

The clock is ticking for this year’s edition, taking place December 18-19, with the theme “Common vision; new momentum.” Like last year, more than 2000 youths will gather at set locations in all the districts to follow the nationally televised event and ask questions.

Citizens also participate via sms, social networks such as Twitter, Facebook and video conferencing.

In 2009, to address the biting poverty in the country, it was agreed that every poor family be given a free cow. Manure from cow waste would improve soil fertility and increase crop yields. Revenues from milk sold would increase household income. Over 400,000 families have so far benefited.

In 2012, as a result of the desire to become a self-reliant nation, off from foreign aid, a sovereign fund, known as Agaciro Development Fund, was created. Contributions have already hit Rwf24b ($34m).

SOURCE :KT Press

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About the author

Olive Ndaka is the Junior Editor for RwandaEye. An investor and young entrepreneur, she is a quick learner and has contributed many articles for RwandaEye in Kinyarwanda.

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