Participants at a policy dialogue on governance have commended the role of home-grown solutions in fast-tracking the country’s development and called for more innovations in that line.
The dialogue, organised by Rwanda Governance Board (RGB), was held in Kigali yesterday.
Rwanda’s increasingly popular homegrown solutions are governance innovations that provide unconventional response to address modern development challenges.
They are governance innovations with roots in Rwandan cultural values and historical heritage and they include initiatives that have helped the country fast recover from the Genocide aftermath and gain political and economic stability.
They include community-based courts like Gacaca and Abunzi community-based conflicts mediation mechanisms, Girinka (One-Cow-per-Poor-Family) programme, and Ndi Umunyarwanda reconciliation campaign, among others.
Leaders’ performance contracts, known as Imihigo, is another home-grown solution to achieve targets from officials’ work, and things like Itorero civic education programme and community health workers are some of the most progressive initiatives that Rwanda boasts today.
The annual National Dialogue (Umushyikirano) and the monthly community work, Umuganda, are also some of the governance innovations that have become part and parcel of the country’s transformation process since the end of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
The chief executive RGB, Prof. Anastase Shyaka, told participants at yesterday’s meeting that Rwanda had to think outside the box and that the mother of governance innovations in the country has been the ideology of the ruling RPF party.
He said the party’s leaders had aspiration and ambition for transforming the country and its people and driving them to self-reliance and dignity while also welcoming valuable cooperation and partnership.
“The achievements made through home-grown solutions are significant and incontestable. They include restoration of unity, reconciliation and social cohesion among Rwandans, accelerated economic development of the country, improved effective governance, and enhanced access to justice, improved lives of Rwandan people and stimulated citizen-centred self-reliance,” he said.
RGB officials said the meeting was organised to help provide an assessment of the decentralisation process in Rwanda and celebrate some key governance innovations that were employed to shift the role of citizens from passive to active participants in development.
Momentum of development
RGB deputy chief executive, Dr Usta Kayitesi, told participants that the country’s home-grown solutions have significantly enabled Rwandans to achieve high level momentum of development.
From a failed state in 1994, Kayitesi said, the innovations helped Rwanda to become stable and resilient with stable institutions, as well as achieving a competitive economic growth that is accessible to both investors and tourists.
“Rwandans who had survived had to find a way of recovering,” she said after highlighting how Rwanda ended up with introducing home-grown solutions.
But as delegates lauded the achievements of home-grown solutions, they also called for more innovations to sustain the country’s growth in the future.
Fatou Lo, acting representative of UN Women in Rwanda, challenged RGB officials to devise new governance innovations that will continue to make Rwanda a better country in the future.
“Where are the new innovations? Where is the new generation of home-grown solutions?” she asked.
Dr Kayitesi said it’s incumbent upon all Rwandans and their development partners to keep discussing new approaches to governance and that RGB will always be there to document the relevance of the policies and promote them.
Discussions at yesterday’s dialogue were held with a focus on how to best deliver development to communities around the country and how leaders’ performance contracts (Imihigo) can be improved to achieve higher public sector performance.
Dr Charles Kayumba, the national chairperson of the districts-based Joint Action Development Forums (JADFs), said the meeting was crucial for building networks among stakeholders and brainstorming on how to improve on delivering development targets.
“Today’s meeting should help us brainstorm and improve what we are doing so we can increase the speed and quality of what we are delivering to the people,” he said.
Kayumba, who is also the Heifer International Rwanda country director, told The New Times that home-grown solutions are likely to help fast-tract development because people easily understand the approaches and adopt them without difficulty.