Local leaders in Gakenke District have been urged to pay attention to people’s problems before coming up with viable solutions.
This observation was made on Tuesday by a team of parliamentarians who had just concluded a ten-day visit to the district.
The visit was aimed at evaluating people’s welfare in the Northern Province district. The legislators said that some of the challenges the district was facing could only be solved through behavioral change.
Let by Senator Consolée Uwimana, the team said problems identified during the tour were brought about by lack of constant interaction between local leaders and residents.
She called for more cooperation between the leaders and residents to help improve people’s livelihoods.
She said some people among those they visited live in the same house with their livestock, others were given mosquito nets but kept them instead of using them on their beds, students drop out of school because of long distance, among others.
She also said most residents do not play a role in deciding who is to benefit from government programmes that support the poor such as Vision Umurenge Programme, Gir’inka, among others, and that the process is marred by corruption and favouritism.
The MPs also disputed the official figure given by local authorities, saying that over 85 per cent of households have embraced the ‘kitchen garden’ initiative that aims at combating malnutrition.
The lawmakers said their tour concluded that not more than 15 per cent have such gardens.
“There are families living in scattered homesteads as opposed to planned settlements government has been promoting. It is, therefore, difficult for such people to access certain services. That is why children are dropping out of school,” she said.
Senator Uwimana also castigated local leaders for neglecting cases where private contractors have employed residents in various infrastructure development activities but left without paying them.
She said there is need to support the most vulnerable people to seek health care and fight malnutrition.
Gakenke District mayor Deogatias Nzamwita said that, while local leaders need to put more efforts in addressing problems faced by residents, the latter needed to change their behaviour.
“Solving social issues is our core responsibility and we have to find solutions,” Nzamwita said.
The MPs tour was organised countrywide and different teams of senators and members of the Chamber of Deputies went to different districts as part of their governance oversight mandate.
After their tour, the legislators will compile their findings which they will hand to the government for action and follow up.