Sunday 14th of February 2016 07:47:58 PM

You buy the Truth, we pay the Price

IMIHIGO, Six years of transforming Rwanda

E-mail Print PDF

The Winning Team: President Kagame poses for a group photo with all Mayors, after awarding the best performers with Imihigo 2011-2012 Trophies in August 2012 at Kigali Serena Hotel.The Imihigo Program has grown to become a powerful tool fostering Good Governance and Socio-Economic Development in Rwanda.

On April 4, 2012, the perfor­mance based assessment approach (locally known as Imihigo), one of Rwanda’s home grown initiatives that the government of Rwanda employs to fast-track inclusive devel­opment, marked six years of existence after President Paul Kagame signed the inaugural performance contracts with District Mayors on April 4, 2006 to kick start the program.

Deeply rooted into the rich Rwandan culture, the Imihigo have grown to become a powerful tool through which performance in the local government is measured, thus contributing hugely to socio-economic development of the country.

The Imihigo program helps the government to realize goals set under the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the locally driven Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS) and the broader Vision 2020, which details key targets the country seeks to attain over the medium to long term development in the pursuit to become a middle-income economy where every citizen should at least have an annual per capita income of USD 1240 by 2020.

The Imihigo performance based approach aims at; speeding up implementation of local and national development agenda; ensuring stakeholder ownership of the development agenda; promoting accountability and trans­parency as well as result oriented perfor­mance; instilling innovation and encouraging competitiveness; engaging stakeholders such as citizens, civil society, donors, and private sector in policy formulation and evaluation. Imihigo promotes zeal and determination to achieve set goals, and instills the culture of regular performance evaluation.

Since 2006, performance of the districts with respect to voluntarily bottom – up set objec­tives under imihigo program has greatly improved and a number of benefits have accrued from simple household led initiatives such as nutritional garden (akarima k’igikoni) to huge-impact projects such as the construc­tion of schools nationwide to provide free and steadfast education to the future leaders of Rwanda.

Notably, the Imihigo was one of the stron­gest contributors towards poverty reduction among Rwandans in the past five years when Rwanda embarked on poverty reduction and economic development. According to the third Integrated Household Living Conditions Sur­vey (EICV3), released by the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda (NISR), more than one million Rwandans broke poverty shackles and started tasting a decent life between 2005/6 and 2010/11. The survey results indicate that poverty levels dropped to 44.9% in 2010/11 from 56.7% in 2005/6 owing to home grown solutions such as the Imihigo, Ubudehe and many others coupled with strong leadership that supported pro-poor economic growth.

The Imihigo have also contributed to the upgrading of the population’s social devel­opment. For example, Rwanda has made tangible progress in increasing the number of pupils going to school at the right age, provi­sion of safe drinking water, distribution of electricity and access to telecommunication especially the mobile phones. These indica­tors help to determine the level of welfare of an individual or a household. Overall, over 45.2 % (over 4 million) of the Rwandan population has a mobile phone while over 215,000 house­holds have access to electricity.

Through Imihigo, the country has signifi­cantly reduced the number of pregnant wom­en that die to 487/100,000 in 2010 from 750 women in 2005 and 1071 in 2000.

Significant improvement was noticed in antenatal care, delivery assisted by skilled provider and delivery in a health facility. The number of married women using any forms of modern contraceptive measures has been increasing, which was drastically reducing fertility rates, an indication that Rwanda’s rapid population growth, which is a threat to development, could finally narrow down. This achievement can be attributed to Imihigo commitments of using and empowering com­munity health facilitators deeply rooted in every remote and urban center of the country.

In 2005, a Rwandan woman could give birth to 6.4 children in her entire life but in 2010, the number had gone down to 4.6 indicating the increased use of family planning techniques committed by almost every district in their Imihigo priorities.

Paul Collier Professor of Economics and Director, Centre for the Study of African Economies at Oxford University in Britain said during the launch of the EICV3 report that the impressive performance Rwanda had achieved had not been spotted in any other African country.

Professor Collier, the author of The Billion Bottom, an award-winning book, which anal­yses why poor countries fail and what needs to be done to save them, urged Rwandans to continue the good level of leadership and eco­nomic development they had attained so as to shape their future.

Imihigo, as a powerful ingredient for the achievement of decentralization objectives, has strongly empowered the communities and currently they play a cardinal role in shap­ing their future by participating in all decision-making and governance calls with support of the local government authorities.

The Imihigo program

The concept of Imihigo is a performance based management built on a participatory approach towards development and good governance at the community and national level with the aim to speed up an inclusive national development. The program is built in such a way that every citizen with an idea brings it on board and the experts who have know-how help to develop it into a practical idea that can be implemented but with strong and realistic targets.

In Rwanda, each district comes up with its own annual action plan, whose main planned activities are translated into performance tar­gets, Imihigo.

Rwanda has 30 districts and four provinc­es—Southern, Western, Eastern and North­ern—and the City of Kigali. Every District Mayor, Governors of Provinces and the May­or of the City of Kigali sign Performance con­tracts (Imihigo) with the Head of State at the beginning of every financial year.

By signing the Imihigo document, local gov­ernment leaders commit both the population within their respective constituencies and themselves to fulfil the pledges therein con­tained, whereas the President of the Republic commits both full support from the Central Government and himself as the elected repre­sentative and leader of the whole nation.

The signed performance contracts clearly indicate the targets each participating entity has set and at the end of the financial year, national evaluators assess, and rank the achievements of the districts based on their targets and the best performers are solemnly awarded.

This process has been going on since 2006. But what is remarkable is that even the least performing districts are not discouraged instead they are encouraged to learn from oth­ers and do better in the next round, which is the spirit of Imihigo: Promoting the culture of competition!

Those who have followed the process since its inception are ascertaining that the Imihigo is increasingly becoming like a school because there is tight competition whereby the best performers are working tirelessly to defend their pride while the least performers are active to achieve more and to attain the best positions and this has sweetened the process leading to innovation.

The Imihigo in 2011-2012

Following Rwanda’s accession into the East African Community in 2007, its budget year has changed. What used to be the 12 months budget year starting January to December, has now changed and the budget year now starts with July and ends with June of another year.

Even the Imihigo process follows the same arrangement because it is arraigned with fiscal year plans. It was in that regard that on July 26, 2011, local government authorities signed the 2011-2012 performance contracts with the President of the Republic, His Excellency Paul Kagame.

The evaluation of 2011-2012 Imihigo was carried out throughout all the 30 districts between June 13 and July 13, 2012 comparing districts’ achievements and the targets they had set. The assessment followed established standards and methodology.

The evaluation also scrutinized weaknesses and challenges local governments faced and advised on possible solutions in order to attain the desired outcomes of the Imihigo process, especially by enhancing planning skills as well as monitoring and evaluation mechanisms.

The evaluation exercise brought together a national evaluation team which comprised of experts from different institutions mainly government, private sector and civil society. Contrary to the previous years, media were also invited, facilitated and allowed to cover the whole evaluation exercise.

During the 2011-2012 Imihigo, districts had vowed to carry out activities in cross cutting programs which were grouped under three pillars namely economic, social development and good governance pillars.

Under the economic development pillar, districts had vowed to increase agriculture produce, infrastructure access, greening and beautification around public offices, schools, urban centres and other public places.

Under social development, commitments had been made in areas of 12 Year Basic Edu­cation (12YBE); housing for vulnerable and needy persons, prompt and regular payment of teachers’ salaries and arrears as well as uni­versal education and health care rollout com­monly known as “mutuelle de santé”.

In the area of good governance and justice, the task was to see cases arising from the pop­ulation registered and resolved through the community assemblies (Intekoz’abaturage); functioning of Joint Action Development Forum (JADF) at district and sector levels; the functioning of Public Finance Management Committees at district and sector levels; Bud­get Execution; Regularity and completeness of financial reports; Regularity and completeness of district internal audits; and Implementation of Auditor General’s recommendations on the previous year’s audits.

Evaluators cross checked whether the tar­gets for corresponding activities or programs were realized as reported. District officials were given time to comment and elaborate on some of the issues whenever it was found nec­essary. This was especially when targets set were partially implemented or not at all.

Districts’ General Performance

Generally, all districts performed highly scoring above 80% which a remarkable improvement. Kicukiro district emerged the overall best performer after scoring a whop­ping 95.5% followed by Kamonyi with 95.1% and Bugesera district of the Eastern province with 94%. The least performer was Rutsiro district with 82.3% while the average score was 89.1%.

The overall performance is obtained by weighting all pillars as follow:

60% weight of Economic Development Pil­lar;

30% weight of Social Development Pillar; and

10% weight of Governance and Justice Pillar.

All districts scored above 80% which shows that all districts excelled in their performance.

Table showing overall districts' performance



Overall Performance of districts






























































































Performance Vis-à-vis the pillars

According to the Imihigo evaluation report for 2011-2012, over the past six years, Imihigo performance has tremendously improved local government planning and performance, leading to national political and socio-economic transfor­mation.

In 2011-2012, it was even better when compared to the previous years. This impressive perfor­mance can be attributed to the districts deliber­ate efforts to mobilize the human, financial and material resources at their disposal in order to attain their development agenda, as well as the well-coordinated imihigo implementation plan by the Central Government.

Remarkable improvements were seen in socio-economic development projects such as con­struction of office facilities, health infrastructure particularly hospitals and health centers; food processing plants, roads and bridges, electricity rollout, water distribution, land use consolida­tion, education and hygiene infrastructure (class­rooms and toilets).

In addition, the evaluation identified outstand­ing achievements in the areas of environmental protection especially tree planting and terracing for fighting against erosion, organized modern rural settlements (Imidugudu), public private partnership in construction of private factories, hotels, markets and estate development.

Economic Development Pillar

Under the economic development pillar, all dis­tricts performed better compared to the previous results and they showed strong leadership.

However, there were the top among the best. That is why, Kicukiro district in the City of Kigali emerged the overall top performer with 96.9% followed by Kamonyi District in the Southern Province with 94.3% and then Burera District of the Northern Province with 94%.

Generally, the average performance of all dis­tricts was 88.9% in the economic development pillar, which showed strong improvement com­pared to the 2010-2011 Imihigo where the average performance was 78.9%.

Social Development Pillar

Under the social development pillar, per­formance also improved. Kamonyi came first with a score of 96.9% followed by Ngoma District of the Eastern Province and Rul­indo of the Northern Province with 96.2% and 96.1% respectively. The average score improved from 82.1% in the 2010-2011 evalu­ation to 89.6% in the 2011-2012 evaluation.

Governance and Justice Pillar

Under this pillar, Karongi district of the Western Province came first with a score of 96.2% followed by Muhanga of the Southern Province and Kamonyi scoring 95.3% and 94.9% respectively. The average performance greatly increased from 82.7% in 2010-2011 to 89.3% in 2011-2012.

Challenges were encountered…

Despite the fact that the Imihigo program is a home-grown solution for socio-economic transformation, it also encounters challenges while districts are implementing their vows.

The encountered challenges could be sum­marized into two categories; the unpredictable weather conditions which disrupt the agricul­tural activities slowing production output and disappointments by some district stakehold­ers.

Concerning the unpredictable weather conditions, in the 2011-2012 Imihigo period, the process experienced heavy rains which caused flooding leading to disruptions or cancellations of implementation of some of the district targets. This was reported by the district authorities as one of the biggest chal­lenges.

The second category of challenges was dis­appointments by some district stakeholders, whereby some stakeholders had promised to assist the districts and their promise had been written down in the planning books of the districts but the promises were never ful­filled leading to non-implementation of the planned activities thus slowing the district performance.

With districts’ excellent performance, Rwan­da is assured of steady development

For those who have been following closely the performance of districts, they will establish an exponential trend in national development, thanks to decentralization policy.

For those analysts who wisely combine ranks with marks, the least performer of 2011- 2012 Imihigo has performed better than the best performer of 2009-2010 Imihigo in local governments, only two years back.

The following table shows how the districts performance trend has gone progressively, since 2009-2010 fiscal year up to 2011-2012.

In the year 2009-2010, the average perfor­mance was 66.3% and it rose to 81.5% in the year 2010-2011, and it excelled in 2011-2012, rising to 89.3%. The trend shows that, districts have consistently improved in planning and commitment to imihigo performance-based approach. In 2011-2012, the districts which have registered impressive improvement scoring a percentage increase of 10 and above between this year and the previous one are: GAKENKE (16.8%), GISAGARA (15.1%), GATSIBO (15.1%), KAMONYI (14.5%), NYA­RUGENGE (12.4%), NGOMA (12.0%), HUYE (11.6%), NYABIHU (11.1%) and NYARUGU­RU (10.4%).

KICUKIRO, BUGESERA, NYAMASHEKE, BURERA, NYAGATARE, NYAMAGABE and KIREHE have maintained a steady pro­gression in performance (in terms of marks) in the last 3 years despite fluctuations in ranking/ positions.

Districts with great performance in the last 2 consecutive years include; GATSIBO, KAMONYI, GISAGARA, NYARUGENGE, NGOMA, HUYE, GAKENKE, NYABIHU and NYARUGURU.

Imihigo for Rwanda’s dignity: The journey continues

Six years down the road, the Imihigo pro­gram, one of different Rwanda’s home grown initiatives and management by objective tools, is a success story that gets better every day as Rwanda becomes more decentralized.

The results from 2011-2012 Imihigo achieve­ments show that Imihigo has been institu­tionalized and has become a culture in local governments, which is now expanding at household level with “Ikaye y’Imihigo” (The household performance contracts notebook).

The performance trend of all districts is very positive and all districts deserve appreciation for such impressive performance despite chal­lenges encountered in the course of imple­mentation.

Looking at the progress registered over the past six years, the Rwandan community at large is assured of its steady development. Rwanda is a stable and respected country, thanks to the resilience of its people and their commitments towards sustainable socio-eco­nomic development.

Imihigo promotes Rwanda’s dignity “Agaciro”. The journey to development con­tinues, and nothing would stop it. Rwandans have a lot to celebrate and to be happy with: They make a “winning team” as Imihigo is institutionalized, and this makes the pride and the dignity of Rwanda as a Nation.

Ladislas NGENDAHIMANA is the Commu­nications Specialist in the Ministry of Local Gov­ernment, Republic of Rwanda.

Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment