Figures show that districts have saved billions in Francs over the last five years thanks to the National Service Programme (Urugerero), under which high school graduates carry out development activities during their holidays.
Urugerero, a concept borrowed from an ancient Rwandan tradition, has seen tens of thousands of youths not only take crucial civic education lessons, but also physically help in the construction of basic infrastructure and provision of socioeconomic services.
Specifically, these energetic men and women have built housing units for the vulnerable, set up ‘kitchen garden’ for disadvantaged households to help meet the beneficiaries’ nutritious needs, fix roads and bridges especially in neighbourhoods in the countryside, and played a part in mobilisation for vital socioeconomic causes.
The programme is conducted under the auspices of the National Itorero Commission, which has for years played a major part in imparting good values among different segments of the Rwandan population.
That districts are now trying to integrate Urugerero into their mainstream development and ecosystem services points to the positive role that the programme is increasingly playing.
Like other homegrown solutions such as Umuganda, Urugerero should be harnessed further with view to maximise its potential. It is important that the National Itorero Commission works more closely with district and sector authorities to periodically identify areas where future Urugerero intakes can be of use for greater impact.