Governing with and for Citizens - Lessons from a Post-Genocide Rwanda

A study on citizens’ participation in post-genocide Rwanda was jointly undertaken by Never Again
Rwanda (NAR) and Interpeace in the framework of their Societal Healing and Participatory Governance
for Sustainabe Peace Program.

Both organisations believe that in a wounded society, participation of citizens in governance is a major
healing mechanism. In Rwanda, given the history of bad governance, violent conflict and genocide,
involvement of citizens in governance requires empowering them with confidence to participate in social and political fora. It also necessitates creating an environment of trust and transparency that enables them to voice their needs and desires.

This study was undertaken with the aim of informing NAR and Interpeace joint program and the decision-making community about the issue of citizen participation as a core dimension of good governance in the post-genocide context. NAR as a civil society organization strongly believes in the power of dialogue informed by research. This research therefore serves as a channel to engage citizens and other stakeholders in dialogue and debate on issues concerning citizen participation. The intention was not to conduct an academic research, but rather to carry out an applied and action-oriented research to ensurthat beneficiaries of public programs can contribute to finding solutions to the challenges they face.

This report is structured in six chapters. Chapter 1 is the introduction to the whole report. Chapter 2 presents the background to this study, highlights its rationale and objectives. Chapter 3 defines key
concepts; Chapter 4 gives the methodology used in this study and focuses on approaches, sampling plan, quality assurance, and ethical considerations.

The Role of Civil Society in Enhancing Citizen Participation in Governance and Development Processes in Post-Genocide Rwanda

Citizen participation in decision-making processes is an important component of a vibrant democracy. When citizens participate in the development process of their nation, they not only benefit from it but also own the challenges of that process and are able to make recommendations around best practices for the future.

In 2016, Never Again Rwanda (NAR) and Interpeace conducted participatory action research (PAR) and produced a subsequent report entitled Governing with and for Citizens: Lessons from a Post-Genocide Rwanda. This study suggested that civil society organisations (CSOs) are “largely involved in direct service delivery…and seem to pay less attention to collecting citizens’ concerns and priorities for advocacy” (NAR and Interpeace, 2016, p.36). Participants of a National Stakeholders’ Meeting reviewed and validated the findings of this study and recommended follow-up research to examine the effectiveness of CSOs in enhancing citizen participation in the governance and development processes of Rwanda.

The recommended research, conducted by NAR and Interpeace, has been undertaken since 2017. Entitled The Role of Civil Society in Enhancing Citizen Participation in Governance and Development Processes in Post-Genocide Rwanda this report is the outcome of the research.