With a renewed sense of urgency, the government of Rwanda has committed to combating poverty and achieving the Millennium Development Goals by supporting new initiatives in health, agriculture, education, infrastructure and business development. The Honorable James Musoni, the Rwandan Minister of Local Government, cemented the partnership with the MDG Centre through a Memorandum of Understanding signed on September 8. The MOU adapts proven practices and lessons as designed by the Millennium Villages Project, and sets out a strategy for collaboration on poverty reduction over the next three years to reach the MDG deadline by 2015.
Minister Musoni commended the Millennium Village model for its tangible impact on improving people’s lives. “In Rwanda,” he said, “we appreciate the good example you have taken to own and support our socioeconomic programs towards national development and this has been witnessed by all Rwandans, especially by vulnerable people,” the Minister said.
Under the agreement, Mayange’s dramatic transformation will serve as a model for the entire country. The village sets a promising example, having gone from one of the poorest and least food-secure areas of the country in 2006, to a vibrant community with functioning health and education services, basic infrastructure, improved food production, and access to water and electricity. Villagers have been able to leverage these gains by setting up small scale businesses, boosting household incomes and investing back into community development.
The MOU reflects the MDG Centre’s strategic plan for scaling up proven practices from the MVP to national level. As the deadline for attaining the MDGs approaches in 2015, the key to sustaining the gains made so far in the Millennium Villages lies in strengthening government capacity to take over and expand the model.
Already, many national governments have shown interest in the MVP model. Rwanda is following in the footsteps of Nigeria and Mali who have already adopted MVP-type interventions and incorporated them into their national policies. These interventions include new technologies to increase food security; bolstering agribusiness; supporting water security; expanding access to energy for poor households; and designing data management and reporting systems.
The MOU builds on Rwanda’s Vision 2020 Umurenge Program, launched in 2007. The program aims to accelerate poverty eradication, economic growth and social protection, by scaling up MDG interventions to 416 administrative sectors. It is part of Rwanda’s Poverty Reduction Strategy which plans to lift the country’s poorest out of extreme poverty though public works projects, microfinance, and direct support. The MDG Centre will continue to provide key lessons from the Millennium Villages to the program, in part to integrate its focus towards achieving the MDGs.