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Rwanda’s “Blue” Village is cooperating to address poverty, with inspiring results.

KAYONZA, Rwanda: Striking sky blue houses hit your eyes as you descend in Nkondo 11, Nkondo cell, Rwinkwavu sector, a few kilometers from the Akagera National Park main entrance gate.

The striking thing about this village, located some 38 kms from Kayonza town is the unity among the villagers. The villages are united as one, in all that they do, from the construction of their houses, tilling the land, to saving.

So united they are, they decided to paint all their houses blue so as to look uniform as one family.

Twite ku Buzima was the first group to be formed in 2009. Its name means “Let’s take care of health,” and members contributed money amongst themselves, to start a mini-insurance scheme for themselves. It inspired the formation of 3 other savings groups, and today, all the 90 households that make up the village are grouped amongst the four groups.

According to M/s Ingabire Joselyne, the in-charge charge social welfare in the village, each household contributes Rwf1,000 (Ugx5,000) per month. This is used to cater for transport for patients, especially pregnant women who may need to travel to the health facilities for antenatal services.

Ingabire told New Times Rwanda that Twite ku Buzima also covers coffin expenses for deceased members.

Other groups are ‘Tugire Umutekano,’ for paying community security guards, and Umusingi w’Amajyambere’ or ‘pillar of development’, through which they are able to buy various goods. Through the latter, the villagers also decided to transform their houses from mud and wattle to cemented structures, as a way of improving sanitation in their neighborhoods.

“Every month, a truck brought sand, which was shared by two households, and then we gave them two sacks of cement,” Ingabire said, adding that they also covered payment for the masons.

Then they decided to paint their houses, a project that cost them Rwf1.6 million (Ugx7m), according to the village leader, Laurent Batibuka. The painting was followed by construction of toilet facilities for needy households, and a general greening exercise that saw each household plant mango, avocado, and orange fruit trees.

Complementing their savings are sales from a tomato plantation they established together through a series of the community work known as Umuganda, in the neighborhood of their village office. The tomatoes have yielded Rwf360,000 (Ugx1.2m) this season according to the village chairman, in spite of the volatility of the climate in the area.

The residents also joined Igiceri program or coin program, established by the sector(parish) in partnership with a Savings and Credits Cooperatives (SACCO) in. Rolled out nine months ago, the program allows residents to save Rwf100 (Ugx4,000) in the box at the sector’s offices, which they can withdraw or borrow whenever in need.

Jean Baptiste Twizeyimana, 36, told The New Times: “We are not really rich people, but we have the same understanding. We achieve something more meaningful than what rich people do.”

As a result of this multi-pronged cooperation, Maria Mukamvunabo, 60, says that each household has been able to own a radio, a mattress and one or two livestock such as goats.

The Mayor of Kayonza District, Jean Claude Murenzi, says that Nkondo village has been “exemplary.”

“It is a good example of leadership. It shows you what people-centered leadership combined with community collaboration can achieve,” he observed. “When they have problems, they take time and talk about them and all of them participate in finding solutions,” he added.

Murenzi says the district is facilitating other village leaders to go to Nkondo and benchmark. The residents of Nkondo now say electricity is the only “missing link” from their village. And the district has committed to help them get connected to the national grid in the next fiscal year, in a bid to generate more jobs and income for the residents.

  (Source New Times)


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