The Millennium Village cluster in Rwanda is located in Mayange, a sector of Bugesera District located about 40 km south of the capital.
Forum participants will have chance to tour the area, which suffers from sporadic rainfall and declining soil fertility, leading to endemic poverty, illness and a lack of economic opportunity.
The project began working with an initial 5,000 people in Kagenge in early 2006. The population was facing impending famine because of failing rains and a poor harvest the year before, and the health center was severely lacking in staff, medicines, equipment and supplies, and had no electricity or running water.
Declining rainfall over the past five years has made productive agriculture challenging. Following a drought in 2005, when the project arrived in January 2006 the team worked with UNICEF and the World Food Programme to facilitate the establishment of an emergency feeding center for severely malnourished mothers and children.
In addition to the many programs in agriculture, education health and infrastructure, many women are undertaking additional income-generating activities such as basket weaving.
The Imasirire (sunrise) basket weaving cooperative comprises more than 200 women who are learning basket weaving and business techniques, leading to additional income for their families. The project is also helping the community access microcredit.
Speaking to the tremendous success of the MVP in Mayange, the Government of Rwanda has announced plans to scale the Millennium Villages project to all 30 districts under its Vision 2020-Umurenge initiative, part of the national development strategy that is taking the project to unprecedented scale.