Rwandans across the country and in the Diaspora today celebrate the 23rd anniversary of the Liberation Day, remembering the time when the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi was stopped and citizens embarked on a long journey to positively transform their country.
The day will be observed countrywide and among the Rwandan Diaspora globally under the theme, “Together we prosper,” which the Government designated to emphasise how crucial the unity of Rwandans is for their development.
Just like last year’s celebrations of the Liberation Day, this year’s, too, is expected that the Government will today hand over homes to different vulnerable citizens who need shelter.
But this time around, the gesture will be conducted in every district of the country unlike last year when it took place in Bugesera District alone.
In July last year, the Government embarked on building affordable homes for vulnerable citizens in every district’s designated model village, with the activities scheduled to be completed today when the new homes will be handed over to the beneficiaries.
The Rural Settlement Division Manager at the Rwanda Housing Authority, Protais Mpayimana, told The New Times in April that the government had earmarked Rwf22billion for the project, with 312 houses of four-in-one units and 10 houses of two-in-one units planned for construction to host over 1200 households before the end of last month.
The Government will settle families from high-risk zones and other vulnerable citizens without a roof over their head while well-off people will also be invited to build their own homes in the designated model villages that have been set up in their neighbourhoods across the country.
“We call them model villages because they have integrated complete programmes like land sharing, infrastructure development as well as socio and environmental protection plans. It’s the only way we can have decent rural settlement and socio-economic development,” Augustin Kampayana, the acting director-general of RHA, said last week.
Under the country’s Vision 2020, the Government has planned that at least 70 per cent of Rwandans in rural areas will be living in planned settlements by the year 2020.
The current rate is 55.8 per cent, according to the fourth Integrated Household Living Conditions Survey (EICV4), published in September 2015.
During last year’s celebrations of Liberation Day, President Kagame and top officials from different government institutions joined residents of Rweru, a remote area in Eastern Province’s Bugesera District, where several infrastructure projects were handed over to residents.
They included a health post, a model village with connection to electricity and water, a modern market (agakiriro), 17 classrooms and a 12-kilometre road from Kagasa to Batima.
The model village in Rweru was connected to electricity and water and was made a home for 104 families that were relocated from high risk zones of Mazane and Sharita islands in Bugesera District.
Big day for vulnerable citizens
The Government then decided that the project in Rweru would be replicated in many other parts of the country, hence every district was required to designate an area where to erect an exemplary village in that line.
As some vulnerable Rwandans will today be celebrating Liberation Day with smiles on their faces because the Government will hand new homes to them, other citizens will also take time off their daily chores to reflect on what they have achieved in the last 23 years.
Rwanda’s achievements since the end of the genocide include attaining stable security for citizens as the rule of law was established and maintained in the country, economic development as poverty levels have been significantly dropping, unity and reconciliation among Rwandans, and exemplary policies in many areas from decentralisation of power to women empowerment.
The country is ranked globally as one of the safest places to live in, one of the best places for women to live, and certainly one of the easiest places to do business.