The New Times (Kigali)

Rwanda: Waging War On Poverty

President Paul Kagame yesterday said that if all Rwandans maintain the momentum at which they have worked to rebuild their country, over the last 18 years, they will not only succeed in drastically reducing poverty levels, but in eliminating it altogether.

He made the remarks during a visit to Gicumbi District yesterday.

According to the mayor of Gicumbi district, Alexandre Mvuyekure, 99 percent of the residents in his district are farmers and half of them still live below the poverty line.

To President Kagame, this is unacceptable - There should be no people living in poverty, he told the thousands of residents who turned out to welcome him.

Addressing the mammoth crowd at Mukarange Sector grounds, President Kagame said that no Rwandan should be a subject of poverty and that everybody could work their way up the wealth ladder if they invested all their efforts to prosper.

While the Head of State urged Gicumbi residents to double their efforts towards development, he cautioned them against external elements that may be bent on reversing the progress registered.

He urged the residents to jealously protect what they have achieved.

President Kagame warned those working towards destabilising the country, saying Rwandans will not tolerate them. He said such people were not working in the interest of the nation and the Rwandan people and should therefore be resisted.

Gicumbi residents, particularly the inhabitants of Mukarange Sector, played a crucial role in the liberation struggle. The then Rwanda Patriotic Front/Army rebels used the area as a key base during the 1990-1994 war that liberated the country from the Genocidal regime.

During the liberation struggle, the RPA had a large contingent of its force operating in the several hills dotting the sector.

Some of the fiercest battles were fought in the area, which eventually became a major launch pad for RPF's advance to Kigali.

President Kagame reminded the area residents of their valued role in the country's liberation.

While in Gicumbi, President Kagame visited Gervais Uzabakiriho, a farmer who received a cow eight years ago and went on to improve not only his standard of living, but that of his family and neighbours.

Uzabakiriho now owns 18 cows and two houses - one of which he donated to his brother - and has also given several cows to his neighbours.

At the event, Clemantine Nshimiyumukiza, a widow, shared a testimony of how she started from scratch and went on to build large poultry business.

From being a subsistence cassava farmer, she used capital of Rwf50, 000 to start up a poultry farm which has since grown to a 7,000 chicken business making Rwf370, 000 a day.

Nshimiyumukiza bought herself a home, vehicle, and all her children are attending good schools. "If I can do it then every woman can, we have several opportunities of the banks that can give us loans".

Residents of Gicumbi District presented President Kagame with a gift symbolising national liberation and protection. It is made up of a set of spears and a shield.

Pierre Mwizerwa, who presented the gift, told President Kagame that Gicumbi residents were proud to have been part of the struggle to liberate the country.

The Northern Province, where Gicumbi district is located, is home to some of the key national infrastructure. It boasts the first fully-fledged cancer centre in rural Africa.

The centre is based at the state-of-the-art Butaro Hospital - managed through collaboration between Partners in Health and the Government of Rwanda.

The Rwanda Defence Force Command and Staff College in Nyakinama as well as the National Police Academy are also located in the Northern province.

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