Over 18 years we have worked alongside Batwa communities currently known as Historically Marginalised People in Rwanda to advocate for their rights, and to improve lives and reduce poverty by helping them to become sustainably self-sufficient. In this time, we have seen some improvements among Batwa communities where we operate and how the rights of communities should be upheld. These are some of the key victories we’ve been a part of over the past three decades :
Community mapping and International alliance of Indigenous People is established African Initiative for Mankind Progress Organization (AIMPO) has emphasised in creating allies with international and local Civil Society Organizations for challenging discrimination against historically marginalised people and promote their Human Rights in Rwanda. AIMPO worked closely with Minority Right Group International to conduct survey on Land Rights for Batwa in Rwanda.
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The survey has been fruitful to the advocacy for Batwa communities in Rwanda. For instance about 200 Batwa families in Nyagare District Eastern Province have been given land for farming. Advocacy in partnership with international organization such as Forest People Programme (FPP), International Working Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA) and Gorilla Organization (GO) produced positive result to the Batwa children who got chance to have scholarship from the Government of Rwanda to study higher schools. So far about 40 Batwa young men and women completed their universities in Rwanda.
In these years AIMPO team travelled to remote corners of Rwanda where we seek out and meet with community leaders to literally create a map of their communities. This has provided us a clear picture of the physical landscape of historically marginalised communities. It helped our team to understand the social, economic background of the communities. In this respect our team collaborated with members of the community to answer questions like “What unique resources does the community have access to ? ” and “What Are the specific challenges that community face and why regardless of their historical background ? “
The reason why we conduct community mapping we agree that Batwa community is unique. Batwa community faces a unique set of challenges and they all have their own, unique assets that can be leveraged to reduce their vulnerability to poverty and violence. This has helped AIMPO to build long term strategy to guide our activities and to work more effectively and help community toward improving their safety and preventing violence.
Because we had conducted community mapping in 2007 the European Union gave fund to AIMPO and Gorilla to train Batwa historically marginalised people of North and West of Rwanda in agriculture, literacy capacity building and Gender Based Violence. Forty (40) hectares of land bought and given to the community of Musanze, Nyabihu and Burera. Training Centre built for 17 agriculture cooperatives.
Improving livelihoods for historically marginalised people in North and West Province of Rwanda.
Livelihoods are typically secured through self-employment, micro or small businesses, rather than through waged employment. Livelihood programme supported household of Batwa especially, women and youth, and their small enterprises by increasing income and creating employment through different methodologies and strategies. Some of the strategies include : Increasing access to resources such as land and assets ; and capacity building.
AIMPO’s strategy is to design interventions that foster the development of resilient livelihoods by focussing on the capabilities, assets and activities that community require to create and maintain a living. The development of market-based skills and the promotion of financial inclusion are major parts of this programme. Financial inclusion is a critical part of creating sustainable livelihoods. Batwa communities have no access to financial institutions. Instead, they depend on traditional pottery activities. Batwa historically marginalised generally have a limited track record of running a business and the additional challenge of having minimal or no savings to serve as collateral for a loan.
What have we achieved ?
Teaching community to save and how do business and marketing
Assisting community to form Village Savings and Loans schemes, to build financial skills and confidence and facilitate progression to more formal financial services and increased financial credibility, with a focus on women and youth. At least a member of community can save 200 Rwandan Francs per week. This has helped the community to afford small things they need. Work with Batwa women to have knowledge of business and marketing skills. Facilitate links between women/youth and businesses for work placements, training, mentoring, employment and self-employment.
Providing animals to the community
Agriculture training were provided to the historically marginalised communities in our targeted areas.
Over three hundred goats (300) were given to the beneficiaries ; eighty piglets (80) and ten 25 cows were given to the beneficiaries to improve their livelihoods.
Providing animals such as cows, goats, sheep and pigs have been contributing to the fighting malnutrition from children and gravid mothers (the cow provides milk for family consumption as a fight against malnourishment).
Increased crop productivity because historically marginalised communities got manure that is used to increase crop production.