President Paul Kagame has once again promised to promote the development of once-marginalized Nyamagabe district but also asked residents to play their role in improving their current social economic welfare instead of expecting every other support to come from donors.
Kagame dedicated two days to the citizen outreach in Southern Province. On the second day, he visited Nyamagabe district, at the gate of Nyungwe national park.
In the past regimes, residents of Nyamagabe district were branded as ‘Abatebo’ – a stereotype to mean ‘backwars people’ and considered backward partly because of the infertile soils that characterised the area and poor leadership.
In his 2017 campaign promises, Kagame said his mission was “to put everyone at same state of wellbeing with nobody left behind.”
District Mayor Bonaventure Uwamahoro told the President that several road infrastructure projects have been implemented which has boosted community development despite past stereotypes and issues of malnutrition.
He said that currently the district has two tea factories in Kitabi and Mushubi respectively, with farmer income turnover of Rwf160 per month, employing over 7,000 citizens.
The district is also focusing on coffee processing with 40 tons of unprocessed coffee.
Boniface Ngendahayo, one of the farmers says that road networks has improved business with reduction in cost of transport and access to markets.
“We were deserted after two vehicles were damaged because of the bad road network, but we cannot forget the first day- (5thOctober 2018), when a vehicle returned to the community,” Ngendahayo said.
Kagame said that the level of development is impressive and more will be done but demanded more from them in addressing issues affecting the area.
Top on the agenda, Kagame said that is to entice local tycoons to invest in Nyamagabe town, starting with the modern market whose construction has been stale for a couple of years now.
“I will send back to you the local tycoons living in Kigali who are not thinking about their district town which has remained the same for decades,” Kagame said.
Kagame said that he wants to see change when he returns to visit, but holding each side accountable to their responsibility.
In being accountable Kagame said that this does not at all times need external financial support but the direct involvement in solving simple issues around them to halt the continuous derail in poverty alleviation.
Ending malnutrition and poor hygiene was one of the issues he was concerned with and said Rwandans need to awaken on working on other activities which include hygiene and sanitation which don’t need external financial support.
“Do you need financial support from abroad to have a toilet, clean your compound and yourself, or cook water or bath, so as not to get diseases?” Kagame asked.
He also said it does not require so much calcualtions to understand that feeding the children a balanced diet is important.
In Nyamagabe alone, malnutrition numbers remain alarming with more than 40% children under 5 years in the district stunted.
Last year, Rwanda rolled out a new program that will enable districts to comprehensively coordinate activities of existing programs meant to curb alarming numbers of malnutrition cases which cost 11.6% of the national GDP to address.
The president dedicated enough time to listen to the citizen queries, and he mainly took note of the lack improved seeds which was recurrent among the citizen.
Apparently, the Ministry of agriculture and related institutions do not have a tangible explanation why citizens do not get enough seeds, on time.
Judicial cases were also numerous and the president, in some areas, tasked local leaders to look at them.
For example a citizen raised a passport case and said that the migration office turned down his application. Surprisingly, a migration officer told the president, that the man was not actually a Rwandan citizen.