The United Nations is committed to ensuring a broad-based consultative process in Rwanda to generate debate and civil society views to enhance sustainable development.
Lamin Manneh, the UN resident coordinator, while addressing a group of civil society leaders attending a two-day training in Rwamagana District, said civil society should seek to be a valuable partner in development rather than to be seen as an opponent.
The training was organised by Rwanda Good Governance Board (RGB), UN Rwanda and other partners.
The training focused on, among others, human rights, gender equality, accountability and partnership.
Manneh said the training was meant to equip civil society organisations with skills that would help them act as true partners in sustainable development.
“We cannot afford a situation where the civil society is always regarded as an opponent. The spirit of partnership will determine our level of efficiency,” Manneh said, adding that the Rwandan government should be recognised for its commitment to develop and empower the civil society.
“Civil society must adhere to the principles of transparency and accountability. The government’s development blueprint, the second Economic Development and Poverty Eradication Strategy (EDPRSII), gives space for civil society to use its mandate. This is a credit,” he said.
How to co-exist
Prof. Anastase Shyaka, the chief executive of RGB, said the training comes at a time when the governance board was about to release results from an evaluation of governance in the country.
He said the training gave the civil society an orientation so that it doesn’t always have to oppose the government.
“The pushing and pulling kind of situation between government and civil society is not always necessary. Rwanda is governed through consensus,” said Shyaka.
However, he said, it was unfortunate most of the civil society organisations are concentrated in urban areas and only about 30 per cent of them operate in rural areas.
“One of our findings is that 70 per cent of the civil society organisations are in urban areas. This disparity is not healthy. They have to go down to rural areas to be more relevant. Civil society is also not gender-sensitive enough. These are some of the challenges,” he said.