Nkondo, the blue village of unity

Residents of Nkondo celebrate at the village offices they have built themselves. JD Nsabimana.

About 38km from Kayonza town, and a few kilometres from Akagera National Park entrance gate, is a village named Nkondo II, in Nkondo Cell, Rwinkwavu Sector.

Unity says something about the residents of the remote community; it describes their lives, from how they save and benefit to how their houses look. All their houses are painted blue.

Since 2009, most of the residents of the 90 households depend on agriculture and have formed four saving groups.

“The first group, created in 2009, was ‘Twite ku Buzima’, (meaning ‘Let’s take care of health’). Each household contributes Rwf1,000 per month to assure transport for patients, especially pregnant women who would need to go to a healthcare facility for antenatal services,” explained Joselyne Ingabire, in charge of social welfare in the village.

The blue Nkondo II Village is located to the  road leading to Akagera National Park

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.

Realising that their houses were not clean, they decided to transform them from mud-covered to cemented walls.

“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.

They decided to paint their houses blue, a project that cost them Rwf1.6 million, according to the village leader, Laurent Batibuka.

Now there is a balance of Rwf2.3 million after paying for painting and constructing toilets for needy households.

They have also bought palm seedlings to green their neighbourhoods, in addition to mango, avocado and orange fruit trees.

Another source of money for the village is a tomato plantation they established together in the surroundings of their village office, which they also built together, through a series of the community work Umuganda.

The tomatoes have yielded Rwf360,000 this season, in spite of the volatility of the climate in the area.

The residents also joined Igiceri programme, or coin programme, established by the sector in partnership with Savings and Credits Cooperatives (SACCO).

Rolled out nine months ago, the programme allows residents to save Rwf100 in the box at sector’s offices, and can withdraw or borrow whenever in need of money, which is directly linked with the SACCO.

Their joint effort also secures health insurance for families and good nutrition for their children.

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.”

Maria Mukamvunabo, 60, said that joining the groups made each household receive a radio, mattresses and livestock such as goats.

Two ducks in a home in Nkondo. The household also possesses a goat. Small livestock were chosen because they are tolerant to the climate.

The Mayor of Kayonza District, Jean Claude Murenzi, said Nkondo village was “exemplary”.

“It is a good example of leadership. It shows you leaders who are close to the people, community collaboration and people who are united,” he observed.

“When they have problems, they take time and talk about them and all of them participate in finding solutions.

“What we ask residents of other villages and cells is to learn from them, which is why we often facilitate them to visit them and see for themselves what the residents there have achieved together,” he explained.

The only thing missing in Nkondo is electricity, but 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.