The national focus over the last few days has been on the remote district of Nyamagabe for the right reasons. The district, for a second year running, has been ranked as the best performer in the Country.
Over the last few years, the district that was part of the former Gikongoro prefecture was known for its infertile soil and genocide ideology; in a nutshell, nothing good ever came out of this remote area.
Nyamagabe today is an amazing story of what able, stable leadership and good governance can do in stemming poverty.
It is an example of mindset change and a determination to achieve despite the challenges that abound.
What makes Nyamagabe tick? This is the question that I put to the youthful District Mayor Alphonse Munyentwari. It did not take him a second to find an answer; it was like I had asked him for his name.
“It is all about empowering our team; build its capacity, confidence and commitment. It is about full the participation by our people,” he told me.
It is not enough to listen to the eloquent rhetoric from leaders about their achievements without going down to the villages for the real picture – this brings us to Kagano village.
This Monday, Kagano residents hosted a very important visitor- none other than President Paul Kagame.
As the Presidential entourage descended on this little-known village, the question that preoccupied me was what the village had achieved to warrant such a high profile visit.
But the answer was there for all to see; what the 640 residents of this village did was to agree on a plan to get of poverty, and as they say, “the rest is history”.
The residents of this village realised the importance of good leadership in achieving their development goals.
They voted into office able leaders who fitted their development ‘model’ who did not disappoint them, seeing that the village was ranked the best in good governance in the district.
This was the first most important feat.
Kagano residents under the ‘Kagano Ndatwa Cooperative’, agreed to consolidate their small plots of land to form 71 hectares of land on which they agreed to cultivate wheat.
The undulating hills were terraced to protect them from soil erosion. Today, they are able to harvest about 180 tons of wheat a year.
They have not stopped at that; they have embraced the one cow per family programme to supplement their incomes but also get animal manure for their farms.
Basic personal hygiene in homes is a priority, children are in school, families have medical insurance and have access to clean water.
There is a lesson that Kagano can teach the rest of the Country; that community effort best solves community challenges.
The author is the Southern Province Bureau Chief, The New Times