By Mutangana Emmanuel
The Institute of Research and Dialogue for Peace (IRDP) in partnership with the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) Rwanda organized public debates with the overall objective of creating a safe space for critical, constructive, and evidence-based dialogue for sustainable peace and development in Rwanda. The event held on Friday, 13th October, 2023, in Kigali, Rwanda.
The public debate sought to explore the phenomenon of model villages in Kigali City. The debate reviewed the achievements related to model villages in providing decent and affordable housing to vulnerable groups in Kigali, showed setbacks observed in the model villages program and highlighted the implications of these setbacks to peacebuilding and also discussed strategies to be taken to enable the model village program to serve as an efficient tool for social protection and peacebuilding.
The event brought together governmental and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), Faith-Based Organizations (FBO), and academia, youth, women, academics, CSOs members, human rights activists and private sectors.
According to Jean Paul MUNYANDAMUTSA, Director General of Social Development and Good Governance of Kigali City, “There are strategies that we believe will help us overcome the challenges we have encountered in implementing the IDP model.”
“For instance, settling people near the city has proven to be more beneficial than settling them far away. Although the land in close proximity to the city may be expensive, it enables people to live closer to job opportunities. That is why this year, we will be constructing an additional 1000 houses to accommodate more families. We have chosen a site near the center of the city.” He explained.
MUNYANDAMUTSA concluded reminding that “Construction not only requires permits, but it also reduces competition in the construction industry because one cannot engage in building activities without a license.”
“This negatively impacts the environment, and therefore, we are against it. Our plan is to ensure that affordable housing is available for everyone while also collectively addressing the issue of residing in high-risk zones, as it hinders the city’s development.” He said.
Leopold UWIMANA, Director General of Model Villages in Rwanda Housing Authority said that ” Settlement of people in model villages has changed their lives as they share different infrastructures”. He added “what is needed is survival initiatives to allow families to respond to family needs and conduct citizens’ mobilization before relocation to mitigate resistance mindset and enhance ownership of interventions”.
For Mr. Augustin RUGUNDANA, Policy influencer at Haguruka NGO, “We need to search for job opportunities based on the choice of sites for IDP model villages and informal settlements upgrading.”
Mr. Rugundana added that “The implementers of policies related to IDP Model village should establish a clear mechanism that allows affordable housing for everyone.”
“We also need to redesign IDP house units and study the option of a public-private partnership (PPP).” He added.
He also stated the awareness raising on GBV, peaceful cohabitation, and engagement of the surrounding community as the best initiative to promote decent and affordable housing
In his testimony, Abed NZARAMBA from Karama IDP Model village stated, “There are no issues in our village. We engage in social activities, visit one another, and live in harmony. However, some individuals are hesitant to reside in model villages due to a lack of sufficient information. They feel uncertain about starting a new life in a different location. Nevertheless, in the village where I reside, people are content and feel secure.”
Chantal UMUFITE, who is also from Karama IDP Model village, expressed her concern by stating, “The issue lies in the fact that people are being placed in model villages without being properly instructed on the usage of the equipment they receive.”
“As a result, some of the equipment gets damaged, leading to losses for the government. What should be done is to educate people on how to use facilities like toilets, as some individuals are unfamiliar with modern toilet systems due to their background.” He explained.