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Post-Genocide Rwanda Demonstrates Re-building is Possible

Jul 13 2012 (IPS) - UNITED NATIONS July 12 (IPS) – Eighteen  years after the genocide,  Rwanda demonstrates that rebuilding a nation is possible. On Thursday the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) launched the world premiere of the short documentary: “Rwanda – Reaching New Heights”  which  was followed by an online  discussion with film-maker Zak Mulligan and UNDP Rwanda Country  Director Auke Lootsma, who was on video call from Kigali, the capital of Rwanda.

Rwanda is now one of the fastest growing African countries with an annual gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate of 8.6 per cent in 2011 and it is the country with the highest women’s participation in  parliament, with 56 per cent of its members being females.

“They have achieved quite a bit in terms of health care and women in parliament,” said Mulligan.

“When men had the majority, we had trouble passing anything that had to do with gender issues. But now, with our numbers, we have a stronger voice than before,” said Espérance Mwiza, a female member of Parliament,  interviewed for the  documentary.

UNDP is working with these women through the Rwanda Women Parliamentary Forum, where females are trained on how the political process works. Moreover, Rwanda has also  improved in poverty alleviation, by reducing in 12 per cent of its poverty rates. “For a country of this size, Rwanda is a major achievement,” added  Lootsma.

Along with these enhancements, the country has also reached a 92 per cent of enrolment in primary school and gender equity in the classrooms, reaching the Millennium Development Goals.

The eiht-minute documentary shows how Rwanda is building itself and how it overcame the genocide, when in 1994 approximately one million people, mainly Tutsis and moderate Hutus, were killed.

Every last Saturday of the month Rwandans gather to what they call “working together,” so everybody participates contributing to some kind of community work for the benefit of the nation. For Mulligan that is a sense that Rwanda is “moving to the right direction.”

Lootsma also remarked the work of the government and the visionary leadership of its president, Paul Kagame. “He has succeeded in putting a government in place from top down,” he said.

According to Lootsma, Kagame has implemented the “one cow per family” programme, meaning that every family has access to good food.

“The big challenge is now regarding Rwanda becoming a middle income country by 2020,” said the country director. This is the primary goal of the government and it will mean that the country needs to have an  economic growth rate of 11.5 per cent per year.

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