Civil Societies Seek More Participation in Setting National Development Agenda

By Elias Hakizimana.

Rwanda Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have called for more participation in government’s development agenda setting for reducing poverty among the population.

The activists were speaking during a one-day civil society consultative dialogue with the theme: “stakeholder engagement on the NGO’s strategic focus in National development agenda in the next five years”.

They said that there the government should support CSOs as they support private sector so as to promote equal partnerships.

Alexis Floris Nkurunziza, the executive secretary of Rwanda Religious Leaders Forum (RRLF) said that civil society organisations role should not only be to promote self- expression, but also raising advocacy to tackle poverty issues.

“Partnership between public, private sector and CSOs is paramount, civil society need to find ways of building their capacity in the country instead of depending on external aid. When you see the funding from the government to private sector and CSOs, Private sector gets much more,”

In most cases civil societies are not present when the government is establishing areas of national development priorities agenda. However, when the government is setting agenda we should be there and highly raise our voice,” said Alexis Nkurunziza.

Members of civil society said that doing small income businesses would help them to create more jobs and funding than relying on external funding.

Regis Umugiraneza, vice-chairperson of RYAF said that private sector as entrepreneurs have to respond to any problem in the community.

“We charge the service we offer, which distinguishes us from civil societies, we first learn the problem in the community before designing solutions. For example, we are building houses in Rubavu District in Western Province for needy families to pull Rwandans out of poverty. We are traders, but we have to help the community,” Umugiraneza noted.  

He added that joint efforts are very paramount in responding to the citizens’ problems.

“Government, civil society and private sector have to complement one another other to work in the interests of the citizens. We need to sit together to channel the funds in achieving our goals. We will need partnership in the next five years.” He added, saying that more dialogue between the trios is needed to see the improvement in five years.

The main goal of the dialogue is to tremendously reduce poverty in Rwanda.

They reiterated that a lot have to be done to be able to achieve that target without only relying on foreign donations which are not sustainable as at any time these donations can end.

Civil society organizations have also committed to increase growth by creating more jobs, creating capacity and efficiency toward developmental initiatives while delivering on their mandates.

Jean Paul Rwabuyonza, coordinator of Civil society capacity building in Rwanda Governance Board (RGB) said that they fully recognize the role of civil societies in national development programmes and allow them the grant to support their activities.

“we give them grants through project proposals to be evaluated by collection committee. At the beginning we received over 100 projects and 45 of them were bankable to be sponsored by the government and One UN- United Nations Development Programmes (UNDP).

Rwabuyonza sid that they train CSOs beyond financial support to help them extend their activities.

He noted that RGB also conducts monitoring and evaluation exercises to prove that the funds provided are being used in right activities.

“Today when preparing the next five-year strategic plan, we realized it is better to support them in this regard so that they easily manage to have this plan. They have called their members to share ideas on the strategic plan.

With the new law CSOs have full rights to strive for benefits and also paying taxes on the returns according to Rwabuyonza.

Since 2014-2016, about 45 projects benefited from the government support while the second call of proposals which started at the end of 2016 supported 75 best projects.

So far, a total of 120 projects benefited from the government funding and each best project is allowed Rwf25 million to be implemented in one year or above.

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Elias Hakizimana

Elias Hakizimana, CEO&Founder of The Inspirer Ltd,(www.rwandainspirer.com) is a professional Rwandan Journalist with Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Communication, received from University of Rwanda’s College of Arts and Social Sciences (CASS) in 2014. He served various media houses in Rwanda including Rwanda Broadcasting Agency (RBA) in 2013 and became passionate with English Online and Print Media Publications where he exercised his talent as a Freelance News Reporter for The New Times, The Independent, The Rwanda Focus, Panorama and more before he became a Self-Entrepreneur as the CEO and Founder of The Inspirer Limited in early 2017.

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