Rwanda: Kagame Tasks Newly Elected Local Leaders to Stamp Out Child Stunting

29 November 2021

President Paul Kagame has, today on November 29, tasked newly elected local leaders to eradicate the rampant issue of child stunting in different districts, pointing out that they cannot delegate this work to anyone else.

The President was addressing recently elected local leaders at the closure of a one-week induction training at Gishari Police Training School in Rwamagana District.

The training brought together over 400 members of District Advisory Councils of 27 districts - including district mayors and their deputies - from the 27 upcountry districts and those of the City of Kigali who have been in office for two and half years.

According to the Head of State, some challenges have remained rampant yet solving them is not necessarily because of lack of resources or the right skills but rather a leadership issue.

Giving an example malnutrition and stunting he said that areas where it is most prevalent are actually endowed with enough resources - giving an example of Musanze and Karongi districts.

Musanze is one of the major food baskets of the country, being one of the major producers of Irish potatoes in the country and beyond. On the other hand, Karongi is almost surrounded by Lake Kivu.

"For your information; whenever you allow children to get stunted, you are stunting a nation. What did we lack to completely solve this? Things must change; there is no two ways about it! We cannot let you stunt Musanze or Karongi because of your own deficiencies," he said.

Other challenges to address

Kagame said another challenge of leaders who makes themselves unnecessarily busy instead of providing services to citizens, spending the bigger chunk of their time in endless meetings.

"A citizen coming from their home, sometimes after making a long distance, get to local government offices only to be told the leaders are in a meeting. Such meeting will even take a whole day. What kind of meetings are these?" he asked them.

The Minister of Local Government, Jean Marie Vianney explained that the problem resides in the lack of strategic planning while conducting certain meetings, adding that the focus should be on solving people's problems rather than unfruitful meetings.

To this, the President challenged the newly elected leaders to prioritise planning, saying that many of the problems stem from lack of planning.

According to the President, the leaders should properly plan in a way that they are there for the people but also find time to cater for their personal needs.

"I am not telling anyone to commit 24 hours to the job. Do proper planning. Allocate appropriate to the people also your personal needs," he said.

The president also pointed out the issue of street children who are back after some time.

"It is however important to deeply analyze what is leading to the resurgence of this problem. Children should not be sleeping in tunnels."

He emphasized that getting solutions to such challenges cannot be delegated to anyone, "it is your job to solve them as leaders."

Leaders commit to serving duly

Gloria Nadine Mugwaneza, member of the advisory council of Rutsiro District said that their main take home from the week-long training was that their unity as leaders is their strength and the citizen will come as a priority.

Richard Gasana, who was re-elected as Mayor of Gatsibo District said that they left the training with the commitment to shun the culture of staying in offices instead of reaching out to citizens.

He acknowledged that solving many of the problems that are faced in communities does not always require financial resources but commitment and right mindset of the leader.

During the training, the local leaders were briefed on different topics ranging from their roles and responsibilities, the decentralization policy, foundations of governance and consolidation of national unity.

Also covered were various issues affecting the community including human security, Covid-19 management, international security, human capital development, and the continued liberation battle, among others.

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