News / Africa

In Rwanda, Reform Progressing on Many Fronts

In Rwanda, Reform Progressing on Many Frontsi
X
Roopa Gogineni
March 28, 2014 5:39 PM
Twenty years after genocide claimed an estimated 800,000 people, Rwanda is often cited as a model country when it comes to improvements in the environment and economic development. Roopa Gogineni has more from Kigali.
VIDEO: Twenty years after genocide claimed an estimated 800,000 people, Rwanda is often cited as a model country, but some critics call Kigali officials heavy-handed. Roopa Gogineni has more from Kigali.
Roopa Gogineni
In a checkout line at Kigali's Nakumatt shopping center, employees pack groceries in paper bags.

After non-biodegradable polythene bags were banned in 2008, owners found that stocking plastic in their stores carried a risk of going to jail.

The ban is part of an environmental campaign that has earned Rwanda the reputation as the cleanest country in Africa.

Another hallmark initiative is "Umuganda," a mandatory day of community service held on the last Saturday of every month.    

Adan Ramata, the store manager, comes from neighboring Kenya.

"When Kenyans will visit Rwanda, and you tell them tomorrow is national cleaning day and that you have to clean, they will ask you how much do they pay?" he said. "No, no, no. This is just a national cleaning day, you have to sacrifice it. You have to clean."

Twenty years after a genocide that killed an estimated 800,000 people, Rwanda is often cited as a model country when it comes to improvements in the environment and economic development.

Rwanda’s government has also made sweeping reforms in the healthcare sector. Facing a healthcare system that, like those in many African nations, was heavily centralized in urban areas, Rwanda's Ministry of Health has recently pushed to establish district hospitals for its rural citizens, around 80 percent of the population.

The country is also widely recognized for a national health insurance plan that covers nearly all Rwandans.

"When patients are insured, they consult earlier," said Dr. Bwiza Muhire Hippolyte, a general practitioner at Butaro Hospital in northern Rwanda. "They don’t come when they are severely ill. Many times ago people were delivering at home, and if the delivery is not attended there is a very high risk of complication. Even some mothers can die."

Dr. Hippolyte says that nearly all deliveries today are attended to by healthcare professionals. Universal health insurance, he believes, has brought down infant and maternal mortality rates.

Rwanda’s healthcare successes were largely made possible by foreign aid money, which covers half the cost of the national health insurance program.  

Rwanda's rapid development is not without its critics, who say the government is heavy-handed and does not stand for opposition.

But there is no denying Rwanda’s economic growth stands out in the region. GDP growth has averaged 8 percent per year over the past decade.

Poverty reduction has been a top priority of President Paul Kagame, who says he wants to push Rwanda to middle-income status by 2020.

"In the past there is always a term used, we called it 'reducing poverty,' as if the aim is to remain with some poverty," he said.

At the time of the genocide, 78 percent of Rwandans lived in poverty. Today, that figure has fallen to less than 50 percent.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs