There is still need for more awareness on the role of volunteerism among Rwandans, according to Transparency International Rwanda.
The Civil Society Development Barometer (CSDB) 2015, conducted by Rwanda Governance Board, shows that the extent of volunteerism among members of civil society remains weak.
According to the barometer, 45 per cent of members of civil society organisations rarely or never do voluntary work with their organisations.
Speaking at a workshop on promoting the spirit of volunteerism last week in Kigali, Appolinaire Mupinganyi, the Executive Director of Transparency International Rwanda, said citizens need to make it their responsibility to participate in various national initiatives.
“They need to feel that sense of pride and commitment to help the government achieve more through volunteerism,” Mupinganyi said.
Some initiatives that the country put in place to promote volunteerism drawn from traditional cultural practices after the 1994 Genocide include community work (Umuganda), Gacaca Courts, and Mediation Committees (Abunzi).
Marie Immaculee Ingabire, the chairperson of Transparency International Rwanda, said despite the political will, there was still a long way to go to explain the benefits of volunteerism in the country.
“There is a need for measures to ensure that volunteerism works; as TI-Rwanda, we are committed to continue promoting volunteerism in our culture and we hope this meeting will take volunteerism to another level,” said Ingabire.
“Volunteerism is also part of good governance and it is the reason why we brought together some actors in volunteerism to assess the challenges and lessons learnt so as to move forward to reach the needed level,” she added.
Last year, Umuganda saved the government over Rwf 19 billion that could have been spent on various public works.
In May 2015, TI-Rwanda initiated the concept of concerned citizens committees (CCCs), a group of citizens willing to be part of the movement to fight corruption and related offences.
Members work on voluntary basis to inform, motivate and mobilise citizens in the fight against corruption and promote integrity in service delivery in their localities.
They operate in 42 sectors in six districts of the country.
One volunteer, Edward Nizeyimana from Kamonyi District, said the spirit of volunteerism is part of his values and that when he reports corruption or other related offences it’s in the interest of many.
Fred Mufuruki, the Director General in charge of Governance and Local Entities at the Ministry of Local Government, appreciated the work done through voluntarism.
“We appreciate these efforts because we could not achieve this using only the national budget,” Mufuruki said.
“We commit to work with partners to ensure the spirit of volunteering moves to another level,”
Ulrich Berdelmann, GIZ Programme Director, said in order to be successful volunteerism requires involvement of the civil society organisations (CSOs), and citizens’ participation, especially the youth.
Up to the end of 2014, more than 1,500 CSOs were registered with the Rwanda Governance Board.