“What Kagame promised the people of Rwinkwavu during the 2003 election was fulfilled. We now have reason to smile. Roads, a good hospital, telephone antennae, a cow per family, medical insurance,” - Abel Niyibizi, the Executive Secretary of Rwinkwavu.
During the 2003 presidential campaign, President Paul Kagame made a number of pledges across the country. Among them, he promised to help develop Rwinkwavu in Kayonza district.
Rwinkwavu sector is situated in the Eastern Province, towards the frontier of Tanzania and Rwanda. Today, the local leaders and villagers in the area are extremely happy to echo their various economic successes and achievements, since 2003.
“What Kagame promised the people of Rwinkwavu during the 2003 election was fulfilled. We now have reason to smile. Roads, a good hospital, telephone antennae, a cow per family, medical insurance,” said Abel Niyibizi, the Executive Secretary of Rwinkwavu.
Indeed Rwinkwavu benefits from one of the best medical services in the country. The once inaccessible village is now full of life due to a good road network that connects Kabarondo to the interior of Rwinkwavu.
“Look at our heads and clothes we are shining. We are so happy. We had no roads before; everyone had developed backache because of a terrible bumpy road.
Today, one can ride a bicycle smoothly all the way from Kabarondo to Rwinkwavu,” said one resident.
Rwinkwavu hospital is a newly established modern hospital which offers great service to the population.
“Pregnant women never went for medical check-ups before Rwinkwavu hospital was built; but stayed and delivered in the villages. This increased maternal and child mortality rates,” said Denise Mukashema.
“There were no counseling services for HIV infected mothers. This led to an increase in the mother to child HIV infection rate.
This is almost history now; mothers attend medical check-ups regularly and are aware of how to handle themselves when infected with HIV/Aids,” Mukashema further observed.
The medical care is not free. However, the locals have medical insurance (Mutuelle), and can pay an affordable percentage of fees before they get treatment.
“All our people pay for their medical insurance in time. It helps them to get medicine cheaply.
The economic development on the household level also helps them to pay for medical insurance and bills,” she added.
The people of Rwinkwavu have as well increased their agricultural production. This was after the sensitisation campaign to start better methods of agriculture.
Famine and hunger used to hit the area so much that residents shifted to other areas during droughts.
“We used to grow crops in a disorganised and non productive manner,” said Jean Claude Karambizi, a resident in the area.
“Since, we were trained and sensitised on how to grow crops properly, we have increased our production tremendously. We don’t have people escaping from hunger anymore,” Karambizi said.
As a result, the farming population has gone on to diversify to cash crop production.
The routine of growing traditional cash crops like coffee, no longer enslave the people of Rwinkwavu. They have realised for instance that pepper can also generate cash on the local and international markets.
“When the President asked people to create jobs, I remembered a certain Ugandan in a place called Masaka, who had a very big garden of pepper. I started pepper growing immediately,” said Paul Sibomana.
Sibomana said that he started off by first planting 125 trees of pepper, and right now he is happily reaping profits from his business.
The one cow per household initiative- a countrywide process introduced by the government as a way of eradicating poverty and malnutrition has been a success in Rwimkwavu. Families, especially the children are able to get protein hence curbing the increase of Kwashakor in the area.
“I was given a cow and it helps me to get children’s milk, school fees, manure for my gardens and buy clothes,” said Froduard Karaki, a resident in the area.
The country wide free basic education has indeed enabled parents to enroll their children into schools.
“There are a few primary school drop-outs and street children in our area. The nine years free basic education, initiated by Kagame has done great service to our children and the community at large,” said Simon Burakari.
The generally sound security situation in Rwanda is also felt by the sector. The residents say that these achievements are a result of the good security environment in the sector.
Women too are not left out. They speak out on the socio-economic issues that affect them and find solutions to their problems.
“There is no doubt that gender equality and general women emancipation was initiated by Kagame. We owe him great respect for it. That is why he won an international award,” Flavia Gakwaya said.
“Women are rarely raped and when it happens, culprits are severely punished. Incidents of forced marriages are now a rare ocurrance,” she added.
Previously, ignorance is what mostly affected rural women. They did not know about their rights and were continuously abused in their families.
They suffered many beatings and were sent away from their children by men without question.
However, they have been sensitised on numerous occasions and cannot be taken for a ride anymore.
According to Marie Chantal Nyirabashi, “Most women could not tell whether they were being abused or not.”
Nyirabashi said that they never knew their rights but through trainings they have opened their minds. Men too, have learnt that they have to respect women.