Rebuilding a Stronger Rwanda Through Umuganda Community Work
Traditional Rwandan homes were a community event constructed from grass-thatched materials. Umuganda was a communal act of assistance and a sign of solidarity. In everyday use, the word Umuganda refers to a pole used in the construction of a house. The pole typically supports the roof, thereby strengthening the house.
The word Umuganda is translated as strength in numbers, coming together for a common purpose to achieve a positive outcome.
|February 2, 1974, Umuganda became an official |
Rwandan government program
Rebuilding Rwanda Through Umuganda Community Work
Local leaders at the district and village level were responsible for organizing Umuganda and citizens had little say in this process. For this reason and because penalties were imposed for non-participation, Umuganda was initially considered forced labor.
|Umuganda is also known as community work|
Umuganda, also known as community work, was reintroduced to Rwandan life in 1998 as part of efforts to rebuild the country after the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. The program was implemented nationwide though there was little institutional structure surrounding the program. It was not until November 17, 2007, with the passing of Organic Law Number 53/2007 Governing Community Works and later on August 24, 2009, with Prime Ministerial Order Number 58/03 that Umuganda was established into Rwandan life.
These committees are responsible for organizing what work is undertaken as well as supervising, evaluating and reporting what is done. Rwandans between 18 and 65 are obliged to participate in Umuganda. Those over 65 are welcome to participate if they are willing and able. Expatriates living in Rwanda are also encouraged to take part.
|An Umuganda building |
Umuganda is also used for evaluating what they have achieved and for planning activities for the next Umuganda community activity. Today close to 80 percent of Rwandans, take part in monthly community work.
Successful projects include the building of schools, medical centers and hydroelectric plants as well as rehabilitating wetlands and creating highly productive agricultural plots. The value of Umuganda to the country’s development since 2007 has been estimated at more than US $60 million.