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This baseline is based on the principle of determining the extent to which citizens of Rulindo District participates in the decision-making, planning, budgeting, and evaluation processes of activities intended for the benefit for the activities intended to community interest.

This is in line with the initial objectives of the project “Public Policy Information, Monitoring and Advocacy " (PPIMA) implemented by RWAMREC within the framework of the funding of Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) Starting with a desk review, SMART Consultancy Ltd realized that the project had been designed and implemented within the framework of complementary existing policies aimed at improving citizen participation to drive the entire development process in Rwanda. In such a perspective, the implementation of the project referred to the community scorecard (CSC) approach in supplement to the existing district’s performance contract (Imihigo) and village assemblies among others, for the acceleration of community development through citizen’s participation.

The research methodology used was predominantly qualitative. During one week of data collection, the consultant assisted by 4 enumerators collected the intended data using Focus Group Discussions (FGD) with 37 citizens and opinion leaders and semi structured interviews with selected eight (8) local leaders at district, sector, cell and village level. PPIMA RWAMREC staff collaborated in the preparation of the inception report, as well as comments on the data collection tools and the preliminary report.

The study found that although Rulindo District ranked among the top performing districts in terms of community engagement in decision making and implementation processes, this district still lags behind in the area of agriculture and land issues. It was also noted that citizen participation is real during community assemblies, with the appreciation of a significant and tangible presence of women.

In general, participation is always at the level of information and consultation, with little or no feedback on certain questions or suggestions made by citizens. On the other hand, in some cells, citizens suggested issues that did not come from above and that were implemented at the local level.

Regarding the role of women compared to men’s in citizen participation, three main views appeared in the findings : equal participation of women and men, traditional male supremacy and female domination. Regarding the participation of people with disabilities (PWD) compared to other citizens, it was noted that in principle, people with disabilities participate with their neighbors in all assemblies at the village level, but also have representatives in all councils ; however, in practice, participation of people with disabilities in decision making is still low, due to stigma and the lack of facilities suited to the types of disability.

Regarding the participation of historically marginalized people (HMP) in relation to other citizens, according to various officials and authorities met, they participate with their neighbors in all community assemblies at the village level. However, the majority of citizens who participated in focus group discussions, including the HMP, revealed that participation is very low compared to other vulnerable people in the same Ubudehe categories. Most of HMP self-discriminate and/or are discriminated by their neighbors.

About the participation of vulnerable people compared to other citizens, most of research participants think that vulnerable people can have good ideas as other citizens. However, some of them have lost their self-esteem, lack confidence and/or censor themselves to participate actively in community assemblies. Other vulnerable people think that their voices cannot be considered, due to the lack and/or delay of adequate responses on issues raised in the past.

Regarding the capacity of youth in citizen participation, almost all respondents have expressed worries about the low participation of youth in community assemblies and other activities. According to the district, staff interviewed, there are a few structural gaps identified so far in terms of citizen participation. Citizens and opinion leaders mentioned some gaps at the implementation level, such as low feedback on issues collected during the consultation, but not considered, imposition of contributions by local leaders without and consultation or discussion with citizens, very weak participation in the selection of beneficiaries of some Government programs such as VUP, BDF (Business Development Fund) and Ubudehe categorization.

Conclusively, findings have revealed a citizens’ satisfaction about their participation in areas of governance and security but gaps in terms of implementation, which implies a need to stimulate genuine citizen participation beyond information and consultation. Despite the effort of engaging both the people with disabilities (PWD) and the historically marginalized people (HMP), there are still signs of stigma and discrimination.

Citizens are not systematically involved in decision making, monitoring, even though consulted and assumedly the fact that the community assemblies are chaired by the cell authorities, it does not allow the ordinary citizens to feel contributing freely to the decisions being made.

The self-confidence of citizens and their ownership in monitoring the implementation of ‘imihigo’ in general and vulnerable categories, in particular, emerges also as an opportunity to improve.

The currently widely used approach resembles the inclusion of citizens in the deliberative process. However, their participation in the decision-making process is not yet systematically sought, nor is appropriate feedback. The level of partnership is still low.

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