Umuganda is a practice that takes root from Rwandan culture of self-help and cooperation, in traditional Rwandan culture, members of the community would call upon their family, friends and neighbours to help them complete a difficult task. The activities of the then umuganda included, for instance, farming for those who were unable to do so due to either physical handicap or old age, building houses for the poor and providing transportation to medical facilities to those who were in need.
The concept of Umuganda originates from Kinyarwanda word meaning woods used to construct traditional house, and can be translated as ‘coming together in common purpose to achieve an outcome’.
In 1998, with the efforts to rebuild Rwandan society and nurture a shared national identity, the Government of Rwanda reintroduced Umuganda as one of the Rwanda’s Home grown solutions to reinforce socio-economic development and to promote the use of cultural resources in mitigating effects of scarce resources as envisioned in vision 2020.
The program was implemented nationwide though there was little institutional structure surrounding the program. It wasn’t until 17 November 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 (determining the attributions, organisation, and functioning of community work supervising committees and their relations with other organs) that Umuganda was institutionalised in Rwanda.
Umuganda is always held on the last Saturday of the month. The population in consultation with relevant authorities may, however, where necessary, decide to carry out community work more than once a month. Umuganda takes place from 8:00 A.M to 11:00 A.M. In the same way, upon agreement by the participants in the community works and the supervising committee, the starting hour for the community works may be subject to change. All able persons aged 18 to 65 years do Umuganda.
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