The monthly community work locally known as Umuganda is worth more than it seems as it brings together Rwandans to work collectively and it needs to be encouraged especially among young citizens, President Paul Kagame has reiterated.
The Head of State delivered the message yesterday in Kigali as he joined city residents at the monthly community work that focused on preparing the soon to be established Nyandungu Urban Wetland Ecotourism Park.
“Umuganda is not a small contribution. It is proof of all we can achieve by working together,” he said.
Thousands of city dwellers, especially the youth, joined in the activities that included digging soil and transporting it to places in the soon to be established gardens in the park while others cut the weeds from the area to make it more usable.
Kagame thanked the citizens for their continuous participation in Umuganda every month and encouraged young people to embrace it.
“We should not let the strength of our young men and women go to waste,” he said.
Financed by the Rwandan government’s Green Fund (FONERWA) at the tune of Rwf2.4 billion, Nyandungu Urban Wetland Ecotourism Park seeks to increase biodiversity, reduce flood risk, raise awareness on wetland conservation, create green jobs, and promote tourism.
The wetland is located in the sectors of Nyarugunga in Kicukiro District and Ndera of Gasabo District along the special economic zone.
The mayor of Kicukiro, Dr Jeanne Nyirahabimana, said that developing the area into a tourist destination and an environmental-friendly park would be essential to addressing environmental challenges.
The park, according to its designers, will have a network of paths, roads, boardwalks and bridges in marshy areas, toilets, nature viewing areas and band picnic areas.
Officials have projected that it should generate over Rwf1bn profit in the first 12 years of operation, approximately over Rwf83.3m every year.
President Kagame, who has led Rwanda into becoming an environment-promoting country where polythene bags are banned and city streets kept clean, reminded at yesterday’s community work that misuse of wetlands in the country will not be tolerated.
“There are clear laws about what we should be doing or not when it comes to handling our valleys and swamps. Those who have mistreated wetlands should know that there is a deadline by which that has to be corrected,” he said.
Conducted every month by all citizens below the age of 65, Umuganda community work has become a way of bringing people together to care for their environment.