Many of Rwanda’s gains as far a social-economic advancement can trace their roots to culture. Traditional policies that contributed to social cohesion, solidarity and mutual help were simply tweaked, modernized and applied.
One of them was Ubudehe where society came together and helped someone to till their farm or build and repair their homes.
Rich people knew that the only security to their property was sharing with their less well-off neighbours, otherwise jealousy and resentment could undo them. So it was not uncommon to see a poor family receive free milk from the rich neighbour, especially when they had a new-born in the home.
Today, Ubudehe is part of our daily life. It is the art of classifying people in four categories according to their financial situations; from the rich and well-off down to the poor.
Now the government realizes that it has been doing it the wrong way; those in the lower categories who received state subsidies and free medical insurance have no inclination of moving up the ladder but would rather sit back and ride on the government’s back.
Now the new reforms introduced in the new categories will change all that. People are now categorized alphabetically; A and B for the middle and upper class, C and D for those who aspire to move up the ladder, and lastly, E, for the elderly and most vulnerable who have no chance of improving their lot.
The most remarkable part in the new classification in the C and D categories is that while they get some help from the government, they are expected to graduate from those categories within a certain space of time and not depend on handouts eternally.
They will not be left to their own devices but the government will accompany them all the way. One thing is for sure; the next signing of performance contracts between the government and districts is bound to be interesting.