The impact is self-evident: Rwanda’s efforts to promote formal settlements

On 8 July 2023 at 11:31

As a Rwandan saying goes, "one who dresses well looks better." This sentiment holds true for economic and social development, which is intricately tied to the presence of decent housing where citizens can reside comfortably.

Promoting decent settlements has been a top priority for the Government of Rwanda since 2010 when the Integrated Development Program (IDP) Model Village initiative was launched as part of the sustainable development agenda.

The program commenced with the construction of Rweru Model Village, which was inaugurated in 2016. This government-led initiative provided free housing to residents along with other essential infrastructure.

In general, the villages built in Rwanda fall into three categories: Model Villages inaugurated every July 4th, villages built by districts or special projects, and public housing (Auto Created IDP).

According to the Rwanda Housing Authority (RHA), 253 model villages have been constructed thus far as part of the program to improve housing conditions across the country, accommodating approximately 30,000 families. The IDP Model Villages alone house around 1,000 families.

The construction of these villages has amounted to a cost of more than Rwf101.724 billion.

Notable examples include the Rugerero Model Village in Rubavu District, which was recently inaugurated on July 4, 2023, during Rwanda’s 29th Liberation Anniversary. This village comprises 120 houses, with an investment of Rwf16 billion.

Another remarkable village is Rweru Village in Bugesera, which consists of 104 houses and was completed at a cost exceeding Rwf2.2 billion.

In 2017, Vunga Corridor Model Village was also completed in Nyabihu District. With 108 housing units, the village required an investment of over Rwf19.8 billion.

The years that followed witnessed the completion of Horezo Model Village in Muhanga and Kanyenyeri in Ngororero, both surpassing a cost of Rwf4.7 billion.

In 2019, Karama Model Village in Nyarugenge was completed at a tune of more than Rwf8.8 billion, offering 240 houses.

The year 2020 marked the completion of Gishuro Model Village in Nyagatare, costing Rwf13.3 billion and comprising 64 houses.

In 2021, Kinigi Model Village was finalized in Musanze District, constructed at a cost of over Rwf25.6 billion and featuring 144 housing units.

Lastly, in 2022, Munini and Cyivugiza Model Village were inaugurated in Nyaruguru. These villages, which cost Rwf21.8 billion and encompass 152 housing units, signify a significant step towards improving housing infrastructure.

Beneficiaries receive essential equipment and amenities upon settling in these model villages. Families are provided with a house boasting three bedrooms, a living room, a dining room, an indoor kitchen with cooking gas, two bathrooms, a toilet, and an outdoor kitchen using charcoal.

Besides, there is a separate section for those allocated one-room houses, complete with a living room, a kitchen with gas, a bathroom, and a toilet. Each house also includes a back porch in the yard, featuring washing and drying areas, a small kitchen, a place to wash dishes, and a seating area for socializing.

The villages boast a shared porch that leads to each individual house. Although residents have their own bathrooms, public toilets and facilities are also available.

Each house is equipped with its own water and electricity meter. In front of the houses, beautiful gardens with fruit and ornamental trees provide a refreshing ambiance.

Upon settlement, each family receives basic furniture, including mattresses, beds, chairs, and televisions.

These model villages also offer additional facilities such as a multipurpose hall, a health post, and a well-equipped Early Childhood Development Center (ECD). The outdoor garden within the ECD area is equipped with recreational facilities and toys.

Sports enthusiasts can enjoy basketball and volleyball courts, featuring stadium-like seating areas. Sections dedicated to cattle farming, poultry, horticultural farming, and fodder cultivation are also available.

Lives transformed by the model villages

Residents living in these villages have experienced remarkable transformations in their lives.

Mukeshimana Espérance from Kinigi Model Village shared her experience, stating, "Where we used to live, darkness prevailed. However, upon arriving in the village, progress was evident, and we were able to develop ourselves."

"We now have access to schools, clinics, and improved road infrastructure. Previously, we faced difficulties when it rained. We have also benefitted from projects such as livestock farming, including poultry," she added.

Mukeshimana expressed gratitude for being settled in the village, as it has opened her eyes and allowed her to work towards personal development. The authorities have approached them with advice on how to improve their lives.

Ndongozi Didas from Gishuro Model Village shared his story, saying, "I was born in this country but did not grow up here. We were brought by the RPF Inkotanyi, which realized that our former shelters were inadequate. They helped us build sturdy houses, provided accommodation, and land for farming. Now we are strong and without any problems."

He further explained the positive changes in their lives, stating, "Previously, lacking a place to stay caused us great trouble. Life has changed for the better. Earlier, we had to travel long distances for medical treatment, but now we have a health facility right here in the village. We have schools, access to water and electricity, and we can watch the news on TV. Most importantly, we feel safe and secure."

Retired Private Kabayiza Innocent, who fought during the liberation struggle, shared his perspective on the transformation brought about by settling in Gishuro Village. He recounted, "Life was unsatisfactory; owning land and a house like the ones we live in now was a dream. We had no place to stay, and people wandered, struggling to make a living. However, after receiving these houses, everything changed."

Kabayiza expressed his gratitude, highlighting the abundance of resources provided to them. He said, "Upon arrival, they gave us a house, land, cows, chickens, pineapples, mangoes, and even agricultural land to cultivate. I don’t pay rent; I sleep in my own house and wake up to farm the land they provided. We now have access to water, both inside and outside our homes, as well as electricity. In fact, we have everything, and life has changed."

Gasana Stephen, the Mayor of Nyagatare District, emphasized how settling people in these villages facilitates infrastructure development. He stated, "Beneficiaries living in these villages receive basic necessities and enjoy a better quality of life. They are provided with cattle that can be monitored collectively."

Regarding settlement, Gasana added, "Considering the limited area they reside in, there are 74 families in Gishuro Village. It serves as an excellent example of providing good housing to the needy, and it also teaches a valuable lesson to anyone suggesting that they live with others."

The Mayor of Musanze District, Ramuli Janvier, expressed that the model villages have significantly improved the lives of the residents.

"Prior to relocating to the villages, the people were living in homes that did not reflect the value we aspire for Rwandan citizens. The first important change is that these villages provide suitable living spaces, transforming their lives. Secondly, along with the houses, we provide them with furniture, beds, televisions, stoves, and gas," he emphasized.

He further explained that all these improvements have brought about a remarkable change in their lifestyle compared to their previous living conditions. Ramuli added, "Moreover, it is worth noting that many of the houses they previously inhabited lacked basic infrastructure, such as water and electricity."

Mayor Ramuli highlighted that the villages offer the residents the opportunity to raise cows and chickens, and the presence of a furniture workshop center enables the villagers to find employment. Additionally, the local children studying vocational skills can now find suitable employment or apply their acquired knowledge within the community.

RHA urges residents settled in model villages, as well as those who have gained access to improved infrastructure, to maintain and uphold these facilities properly, as they are essential for their journey towards prosperity.

Rugerero IDP Model Village was inaugurated on 7th July 2023.