When it comes to infrastructure development, every Rwandan including visitors, are left in admiration of how in such a short period of time, a nation that was once grieving the ruins of its history can achieve such an unwavering transformation.
The milestones made in the infrastructure sector are evident, but for the sake of this article my focus will centre on rural transformation.
In his recent speech on the occasion to mark the 22nd Liberation Day, President Paul Kagame, while addressing residents of Rweru and in particular those that were resettled from Mazane and Sharita Islands of Lake Rweru in Bugesera, described true liberation as that which addresses the socio-economic transformation of Rwandans, especially those in rural dwellings.
Believe it or not, Rwanda has one of the most organised rural settlement policies in Africa. This approach that was adopted during the 2007 Akagera Government retreat is changing the image of rural Rwanda.
This model is none other than the Integrated Development Programme where model villages have been set up in all parts of the country.
Under this model an all inclusive settlement is set up with access to water and electricity, a community hall, health centre, marketplace, schools and promotion of off-farm activities among other things.
On a recent visit to the Eastern Province in the model villages of Nyagatovu and Kitazigurwa little did I know that families living in this planned settlement have become the centre of attention.
I was told that no day goes by without receiving visitors who want to learn how these villages have been able to achieve true socio-economic transformation.
As stipulated in the National Human Settlement Policy of 2009, this has been useful in efficient use of land, promotion of off-farm activities, ICT, cooperatives formation, improved agriculture, and so forth.
In particular, this has helped in improving planned resettlement of populations that are living in high risk zones and those in isolation.
In order to achieve the target set forth in the EPDRS II and Vision 2020, this development model has been at the forefront in ensuring that there is ease in the provision of services that include health care, education, water and sanitation, electricity and other infrastructure thus enhancing improved quality of life and creating all inclusive safe rural settlements.
That said, I am a believer that when talking about liberation, what should come to everyone’s mind is the peace and stability that Rwanda is enjoying today with socio-economic liberation as the key to achieving Rwanda’s vision 2020. It is through the implementation of IDP model villages which is ongoing that will drive and shape Rwanda as a country that has achieved true liberation.
From time to time our President has been emphasizing the need for Rwandans to spearhead their own development to achieve true liberation. During his visit last year on the 15th June, 2015 in Birambo, Gashari Sector of Karongi District, the President emphasized the shift from scattered settlement to planned settlements to ease access to basic needs such as electricity, health centres, schools and roads.
“We wish to begin with you when distributing the electricity originating from your neighborhood…,
But as I said for the electrification programs and modern agriculture programs, there is something else we need to do. We need a proper human settlement planning, development and efficient land use for our land”, remarked President Paul Kagame.
Looking at the good practices that Rwanda is embracing through the IDP model villages there is no doubt that with continued visionary leadership matched with the determination of Rwandans, the people living in rural Rwanda will inevitably achieve true liberation that is coupled with socio-economic transformation of the rural areas.
The activities to scale up IDP model villages countrywide are in high gear and the model is regarded as one of the major focuses on improving livelihoods of people living in rural areas.
The writer is a master's student in Mass Communication, Jomo Kenyatta University - Kigali Campus