Rwanda Defense Force (RDF) has changed its community outreach programme from ‘Army week’ to ‘RDF citizen outreach programme’ (RDF-COP) as a way of accommodating more partners who encourage community ownership.
For the last nine years, RDF outreach program has reached communities in providing free health care, infrastructure development, shelter for the needy, environmental protection, building classrooms across the country.
“We decided to rebrand because this activity was taking oneweek only previously but the activities kept increasing and more partners coming on board meaning that it took more than a week, with outcomes increasing,” Lt Col. Innocent Munyengango, the Defense and Military Spokesperson said on Thursday.
Inaugurated in 2009, the former Army Week has contributed to the country’s development as part of the mission provided by article 10 of the law establishing RDF.
Colonel James Ruzibiza, the Coordinator of Community Outreach Programmes said that the word ‘Army Week’ was tailored to the army, but with time there has been need to change the terminology because other security organs and forces are fully involved.
For the year 2018, RDF Citizen Outreach Program to be launched on April 20th, through July 3rd, citizens will be supported to achieve national programs in collaboration with ministries of Local government, Health, Agriculture, Gender and family promotion.
In Eastern province, the activities will be launched in Rwamagana district with focus on health, while in Northern Province, focus will be put on providing shelter to the poor in Musanze district with construction of 16 houses.
In Nyabihu district of Western Province, RDF and partners will help in growing potatoes on 40 hectares.
Activities in Southern Province will be launched in Kamonyi and Ruhango with vegetable growing on 76 hectares.
It is expected that ‘RDF Citizen Outreach Programme’ 2018, will provide free medical services. Estimated 113,000 patients will be treated in orthopaedics, dental, ophthalmology, gynaecology, Ear Nose and Throat (ENT).
There will be also Voluntary Male Circumcision services.
The forces will also construct classrooms and houses in high-risk areas selected by the local government.
The target is of 1,961 houses, 121 classrooms and 108 school pit latrines, improving health and sanitation facilities and engage in agricultural activities to cultivate 4,511 hectares or more.
The RDF outreach activities that were launched nine years ago have saved the government at least Rwf71billion in costs in the areas of their interventions.