A few years ago, Rwanda embarked on an ambitious plan to phase out thatched houses. At first it seemed like an impossible feat, but persistence and commitment won the day.
It went a bit further by giving out iron sheets to the most vulnerable and helping to build houses for them, especially during the monthly community work, Umuganda.
That was the beginning of the social housing project and today thatched houses are no more.
It was the beginning of an exciting journey that has been duplicated many times in various areas. Social protection has been top of the agenda and borrows a lot from centuries-old cultural practices that depended much on pooling resources together for social benefit.
Those home-grown solutions have been catalysts to the country’s well-being; from communal mediators (Abunzi) who solve minor issues in the community without going to courts to the more complex courts (Gacaca) that handled over a million Genocide cases.
Girinka (donating cows) has not only brought health benefits but has also helped in generating incomes. Imihigo (Performance Contracts) has challenged leaders to set goals and achieve them; the same goes for the National Dialogue Council (Umushyikirano ).
Many African countries have been stopping by to learn from the Rwandan experience and try to implement them back home. But the whole process needed to be streamlined. That is where Rwanda Cooperation Initiative (RCI) comes in.
The new body will manage and develop that area of cooperation and sharing our home-grown solutions. That is definitely a first and it will be interesting to see how the new chapter of African cooperation evolves.