Eleven Burundian politicians, members of the Fonds National d'Investissement Communal (FONIC, the equivalent of Rwanda's Common Development Fund-CDF) on a visit in Rwanda, commend the country's level of development and decentralization, and attributed them to the government's political will.
"In Burundi, we have good laws and policies, but we always fail during the implementation process. This prevents the public funds to reach their destination," said Papien Ruhotora, the head of FONIC and vice-Minister of Local Government, who headed the delegation. "Implementation is the major problem on our side; we still have 129 districts which may be the reason why execution of our policies and strategies is still not effective."
He also identified other factors such as the central government failing to reach local leaders in an effective way, and some development partners bringing in aid and imposing their agendas. "But during our visit to Rulindo district, we have learnt some strategies. Districts here have the human resources and experts necessary and someone at the sector level has a strong commitment towards uplifting the grassroots community's living standards," Ruhotora stressed.
Local Government Minister of James Musoni explained that in the aftermath of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsis, Rwandans sat together to assess how they wanted their country to be organized. "It was in 1999 when the Vision 2020 was born, with decentralization as a key component to promote good governance towards sustainable development."
He further told the Burundian delegation that the brainstorming was followed by the establishment of the policies to foster that vision. "Strong political will played a key role. We defined a framework but we also needed financial means and skilled personnel to reach our goals."
Minister Musoni said that in 2006, it was realized that with the 106 districts, reaching the goals was going to be challenging. "The best solution was to create viable entities, which is why we reduced the number to 30 districts. That helped our decentralization process to be faster and development easier."
Minister Musoni also briefed them on the performance contracts which pressure leaders to deliver. "With the technical and financial support from the central government, local government has to do all in its capacity in order to deliver and improve people's lives."
Concerning development partners who want to impose their agenda, Minister Musoni told the Burundian delegation that in 2006, Rwanda established an aid policy which identifies guidelines that aid providers should fulfill. "They have to fit in the country's development plans. They have to come in through our budget or through development projects with a clear agenda: improving our citizens' living standards."
He added that transparency and accountability are what make the funds be effectively used, for the benefit of the community.