Rwanda has successfully managed to establish an efficient and effective decentralisation model that enables citizens to access the government services at the grassroots level.
The decentralisation implementation programme, which is being implemented in three phases, began in 2000 and was first put into action in 2001.
The first phase that ran from 2001 to 2005 saw the promulgation of enabling laws, establishment of service delivery structures, and the first ever democratically elected local government leadership.
The second, from 2006 to 2010, was a turning point in the decentralisation agenda where institutional and organisational restructuring of local governments was carried out to streamline better service delivery.
However, the third phase which runs from 2011-2015, will improve and sustain the achievements made in the first two phases. The key elements of the final phase are defined as performance contracts, provision of capacity building skills to local leaders in the areas of public financial management system, transparency and accountability.
Speaking to The New Times yesterday, one of the beneficiaries of decentralisation process, Jean Marie Kayibanda, a resident of Kibaza Cell, Kacyiru Sector, Gasabo District, said they were fully participating in decision making at the sector and the cell level which was absent before.
“We are able to process our travel documents from the village level without necessarily going to the Ministry of Local Government for application,” he asserted.
Kayibanda stated that they have been empowered to elect their leaders and also implement socio-economic and poverty reduction programmes such as UBUDEHE, VUP Umurenge programmes, among others.
According to Eugene Muzuka Kayiranga, the Mayor of Huye District, decentralisation plays a key role in involving citizen participation in the areas of planning and budgeting by local governments.
Kayiranga mentioned that, currently, civil marriages are conducted at the sector level, unlike at the district level before, adding that plans are underway to decentralise them up to the cell and village level.
“People these days get access to health insurance schemes like Rama and Mutuelle de Sante at the district level without going to Kigali. They also pay Rwanda Revenue taxes, get market tenders at the district level without going to Rwanda Public Procurement Authority (RPPA), respectively, in Kigali,” he said.
Ejide Rugamba, the Director General in charge of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation at the Ministry of Local Government, stated that decentralisation is currently at the centre stage in the country leadership.
“The government, in collaboration with the development partners, have been able to implement a successful decentralisation programme where local communities have been empowered to be part of decision making process,” he said.
Rugamba said that in the third phase of decentralisation, training of local leaders in leadership and Information Communication Technology skills will be put in place, roles between council and executive committees at districts and provinces clarified while service delivery at the local level would also be assessed.
Anastase Shyaka, the Executive Secretary of the Rwanda Governance Advisory Council (RGAC), asserted that decentralisation process achievements are visible, ranging from citizen participation to service delivery at the local government level.
“One of the most important achievements in the third phase of decentralisation in 2011 is fiscal and financial decentralisation, where almost 30 percent of the national budget is earmarked for local governments. This is an important milestone and streamlines good governance because key services have been transferred to the grassroots level, bringing services closer to the people,” he mentioned.
Shyaka added that the process had facilitated the budgeting process since activities implemented by the districts are reflected in their budgets.