Saturday, 02 April 2011 06:59
ARUSHA, TANZANIA- Speaker of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) Abdirahin Abdi has urged member states to embrace Rwanda’s community initiative called Umuganda.
“Umuganda” is a concept adopted by President Paul Kagame where the last Saturday of every month between 7a.m and 12p.m local time, every activity in Rwanda stops, or at least all the restaurants keep closed, markets are not operating and public and private transportation is limited. The time is used to allow every body to participate in community service that includes digging ditches, sweeping the grounds, making composts, building houses, clearing land, or any other activity that is helping the country become better.
According to President Kagame, Rwanda has earned international recognition through this concept. It does not only propagate a clean society but also presents an opportunity for people to join hands to achieve set objectives on top of fostering harmony among residents.
EALA Speaker acknowledged the role Umuganda plays in solidifying communities’ social cohesion and asked the hosts to work towards having the other partner states replicate the initiative.
Mr Abdirahin Abdi was speaking when President Paul Kagame joined members of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) who participated in the monthly community work (Umuganda), in Kanyinya sector, Shyorongi in Nyarugenge district.
At the same occasion the EALA launched its 10th anniversary celebrations by engaging in construction of houses as a means of outreach, corporate social responsibility and participation in Rwanda’s campaign to shift away from grass-thatched houses (Nyakatsi).
The assembly members held sessions in Kigali from March 25 to April 7.
The anti-Nyakatsi campaign marked the inaugural commemoration which shall be observed in the EAC Partner States, with the climax of a wide range of the activities also scheduled to be observed in Arusha, Tanzania on November 29, 2011.
EALA is using the celebrations to reflect on the various achievements and challenges realized over the past ten years and appraise its own effectiveness as it sets the mood for the next decade.
“Allow me to congratulate President Kagame for leading this important initiative from the front and through deeds and actions. I do hope the rest of the region can learn from and replicate the Umuganda idea, noted the speaker.
He said EALA was committed to ensuring all East Africans led a decent life of good and moderate housing and the ability to meet the basic necessities of life. He added that EALA had passed a resolution in support of decent housing for all East Africans.
“The ambitious plan has seen the government work closely with the communities through cost sharing, the house building projects shall continue as part of Umuganda until May this year while the country hopes to clear the grass-thatched houses by next year,” Kagame said in a statement issued last week by EALA.
The statement quoted the Mayor of Kigali, Fidele Ndayisaba, saying the city had about 1559 people living in grass thatched houses before the anti-Nyakatsi drive started but 1093 houses have been constructed with another 400 expected to be completed shortly.
He hailed the assembly for engaging with the communities during its visit.
Kagame hailed the existing warm and cordial relations between the partner states saying that the spirit of integration had unified the citizens of the EAC.