A mini-census conducted by the Ministry of Local Government indicates that the country has a total of 34,799 historically marginalised people, formerly referred to as Batwa.
Results of the census were announced by the Minister of Local Government, James Musoni, while appearing before the Senate to update the House on the current status of the historically marginalised people and government’s initiatives to improve their welfare.
These people, according to the findings, belong to 8,952 families based in various parts of the country.
The issue of the poor living conditions among the marginalised groups first came up in the Senate in 2007 when it summoned the then Local Government Minister.
However, the explanation provided by the then minister left the senators dissatisfied and they tasked the government to seek a concrete solution to improve the marginalised people’s welfare.
However, on this occasion, Musoni left the entire House fully convinced of the government’s positive steps in handling the situation..
According to the Minister, 70 percent of the historically marginalised people are enrolled in the Universal Health Insurance scheme (Mutuelle de santé).
“Most of these are people who can’t afford to pay for the health insurance and the government has been paying their remittances. We want to ensure that this percentage hits the highest possible (level),” Musoni told Senators.
On Education, Musoni revealed that currently, 770 children from historically marginalised families are in nursery schools.
“The census also revealed that there are 6,339 children in primary schools while 439 are in secondary schools,” he noted.
He told the Senate that 33 students are enrolled in university while another 124 are attending technical colleges.
According to the minister, 60 percent of the marginalised groups live in modern houses, adding that most of them benefitted from the recent government’s program of phasing out of grass-thatched houses popularly known as ‘Nyakatsi’.
“34 percent have livestock while only 14 percent families own land. Also 21 percent are benefiting from developmental projects,” said Musoni.
He added that although figures indicate that there have been impressive initiatives for the marginalised groups, the government has a bigger plans for them.
“We want to ensure that all the historically marginalised families are living in modern houses by the end of September and this is very possible basing on realities on the ground,” Musoni said that.
“If we managed to construct 48,000 houses under the anti-Nyakatsi campaign in just six months, then we can’t fail to construct 4,000 houses for the marginalised families in three months,”.
In a recent meeting of local government leaders, it was agreed that each marginalised family be allocated land and a cow to ensure that by 2013, all families have basic requirements.
The government’s plan is to ensure that the marginalised families also benefit from Vision 2020 Umurenge Program where they could access loans and initiate their own income generating ventures.
Following Musoni’s presentation, Senator Stephanie Mukantagara asked the minister to prove that he will achieve all his projected plans by 2013.
In response, the minister said that the experiences on the ground and achievements of projects clearly indicate that the target will be achieved.
Several senators commended the government’s plan towards improving the welfare of the historically marginalised people.