This year saw the Government intensifying the campaign against grass-thatched houses, commonly known as Nyakatsi. The campaign, dubbed ‘Bye-bye Nyakatsi’ attracted members of the Rwandan Diaspora, whose focus has been on particular districts.
While authorities have been sensitising people who still live in ‘Nyakatsi’ houses, to put up modern housing, the Government has taken up the responsibility to distribute necessary materials, including, iron sheets and cement to the most disadvantaged.
However, a recent report by the Ombudsman’s Office showed gross irregularities in the management of the programme, especially through diversion of these materials.
In some areas, it has been reported that the exercise has not been welcomed by the locals, who claim that their ‘Nyakatsis’ are razed down, yet they have no capacity to construct the required houses.
Indeed, it could be argued that, some residents may have been victims of misappropriation of the housing materials by some local government officials, who go ahead to forcefully implement the policy, without providing the alternative to these poor households.
Authorities need to follow up on the Ombudsman’s report, review the entire process and ensure that those who diverted the housing materials, meant for the poor, return them immediately – the same way the abuse of ‘Girinka’ programme was addressed.
In addition, ‘Bye-bye Nyakatsi’ should not be looked at as a Government project; it should be a participatory programme, in which the private sector, civil society and the entire community, partner with the Government to ensure the programme’s success.
NGOs and religious groups need to get more involved with this noble exercise, as we all join hands to eradicate the thousands of ‘Nyakatsis’ in all provinces in the year 2011.