The idea is coped from the colonial times and translated from Kinyarwanda as “coming together in common purpose to achieve an outcome”, Umuganda is when Rwandans from all walks of life come together to work for the good of their neighborhoods and their country at large. Umuganda is conducted every last Saturday of every month, business are put on stand still, vehicles are stop running, traffic disappears from the roads, and Rwandans set aside their personal business for the morning and contribute their efforts to public works projects around the country, which can include litter cleanup, tree planting, building houses for the vulnerable, and more. The social and economic benefits of umuganda are easy for all to see and whether or not you have special skills to contribute, all visitors are warmly invited to take part; given the range of projects addressed through umuganda, you’re sure to find one to fit your interests.
Umuganda is part of efforts to reconstruct Rwanda and nurture a shared national identity, the Government of Rwanda drew on aspects of Rwandan culture and traditional practices to enrich and adapt its development programs to the country’s needs and context. The result is a set of Home Grown Solutions — culturally owned practices translated into sustainable development programs. One of these Home Grown Solutions is Umuganda.
By law all able bodied persons above the age of 18 and below 65 are expected to participate in volunteer community work.
Participation in Umuganda is usually supervised by a manager, or Umudugudu chairperson who oversees the effectiveness and efficiency of community participation.
The day is intended to build community involvement and strengthen cohesion between persons of different background and levels. One such a benefit is that people can access authorities to articulate their needs and voice opinions on various issues.
Currently, 80% of Rwanda citizens take part in Umuganda and a number of projects have been worked upon include schools, healthy centers and Hydro power plants among others.