The word Abunzi can be translated as ‘those who reconcile’ or ‘those who bring together’ (from verb kunga). In the traditional Rwanda, Abunzi were men known within their communities for personal integrity and were asked to intervene in the event of conflict. Each conflicting party would choose a person considered trustworthy, known as a problem-solver, and who was unlikely to alienate either party. The purpose of this system was to settle disputes and also to reconcile the conflicting parties and restore harmony within the affected community.
The documentation of Home Grown Initiatives/Solutions (HGI/S) and Best Practices (BP) is an activity recommended by the Cabinet Meeting held on 4th November, 2011 and since that time, a Technical and Steering committees (in which Rwanda Governance Board is member) were then established to effectively follow up and conduct research on the policies and programmes known in Rwanda as home-grown solutions.
Rwanda Governance Board has been mandated with an extensive research and documentation of home-grown initiatives to understand better and analyze the impacts of these policies for policy makers and also for general public.
In the framework of this research, RGB has centered nine specific home-grown policies. Gacaca (Community justice) jurisdictions have been pivotal to the justice reconstruction and restoration of accountability in post-genocide Rwanda. Abunzi (Mediation Committees) also re-emerged as a tool of informal settlements of disputes and smaller criminal offences and have become formalized in the jurisdiction. Ubudehe (Credit Scheme) represents the group of home grown solutions to stir pro-poor economic development and aims at poverty eradication through community action and should stimulate pro-poor economic growth and decisively contribute to poverty reduction. Girinka (One cow per poor Family) is an extensive programme for rooting out extreme symptoms of poverty such as malnutrition or absence of dairy products through the distribution of cows to the poorest segments of the society.
Umuganda (Community Works) has been re-deemed as the ultimate state-building projects through the community engagement on small projects, which would benefit the whole community or individuals in need. The social component of Umuganda as a medium for unity and contribution to the progress of the community is also widely recognized. Imihigo (Performance contracts) has been established as a tool for management of public affairs implying competition and the self-commitment of an individual or a group of people, which is scrutinized by the public. Itorero (National Academy) is a loose concept set to educate all Rwandans at all levels of the society towards patriotism and self-esteem. Promoting of cultural values and positive traditions for sustainable development are guiding principles of the leadership in today’s Rwanda.
Umushyikirano (National Dialogue) brings annually all segments of the society for a broad dialogue platform that would be used to discuss various national issues in order to assess the country’s development progress and plan for the future. Lastly, Umwiherero (National Leadership Retreat) brings together leaders from the central to local government , to reflect on the achievements and challenges anticipated to have taken place over the past year as well as priorities for the year to come.
After nearly a year of research, RGB has been able to gather a unique documentation on the contemporary application of home-grown solutions in Rwanda including their link to the ancient past. The broad palette of policies has made the research unique in its extensity spanning from justice (Gacaca, Abunzi) to poverty eradication (Girinka, Ubudehe) up to public management tools such as Imihigo. However, it is also the unique reference combining national heritage with the modern revival of Rwanda after the 1994 Genocide.
Home Grown Initiatives – An impact Assessment
Home-Grown Initiatives is not limited on a simple documentation. It needs to go beyond and conduct the impact assessment for better improvement. The already documented HGIs show that the policies resonate in the society far beyond the stipulated goals of the particular projects. For example, the impact of Umuganda does not only affect the actual work but has also considerable social impact, which is difficult to quantify but is important to understand for planning, monitoring and optimal utilization of the policy.
It is in this framework that RGB decided to conduct a deep analysis of selected HGIs so as to identify the role and impact of these initiatives to the wellbeing of our citizens. For the first stage four HGIs have been chosen to be subject of this exercise. Those are : Ubudehe, Umuganda, Imihigo, Girinka. The research is still underway and the first results are expected to be shared in December 2013.
Click on the links to download:
Rwanda Governance Review 2012, Mediation Committees
Impact Assessment for Home Grown Initiative 2014
Rwanda's Community Healthy Program (1995-2015): 20 Years of Building Healthier Communities