Ubudehe is a Rwandan practice and a cultural value of mutual assistance among people living in the same area in order to overcome or solve their socio-economic problems. In the past, Ubudehe was pre-occupied in agricultural activities to ensure timely agricultural operations for food security purposes. As a form of social capital, Ubudehe involved trust and reciprocity. The practice of Ubudehe in the traditional context was a mechanism of bringing together the community, share the burden of problem solving, maintain social norms, social cohesion and ensure social control among communities living together. The intrinsic social and community cohesion aspects entailed, during Ubudehe practice, sharing of a local brew (banana beer) prepared by a recipient of Ubudehe services.
In 2000, the Government of Rwanda opted for the decentralization policy as an alternative solution for poverty reduction through the improvement of the quality of governance and community mobilization as defined in the vision 2020. Ubudehe was initiated by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning (MINECOFIN) in conjunction with the Ministry of Local Government (MINALOC) in the context of Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRSP) purposely to enhance the decentralization process rooted in Rwanda and to contribute to Poverty Reduction as well as to promote community cohesion and reconciliation.
Ubudehe program was institutionalized as a Home Grown Initiative (HGI) and a development program aiming at contributing to the decentralization process, alleviate poverty and enhance the mechanisms aiming at empowering communities at lower level, whilst contributing to social cohesion and Unity and reconciliation which were so badly needed in the post genocide Rwanda.
Ubudehe program, as one of Rwandan Home Grown Initiatives (HGIs) and complementary to social protection programs, has proved to be a potential instrument in addressing the country’s socio-developmental challenges uprooted from the 1994 Genocide. Over the last two decades the program has contributed to poverty alleviation, social cohesion, Unity and Reconciliation of Rwandans to mention but few. The relevancy of the program emanates from being a locally owned model used to solve community’s socio-economic problems through participatory mechanisms. This approach enhances citizen ownership and appreciation of service delivery offered to them through provision of planning data and feedback mechanisms at community level.
Currently, under the oversight of the Ministry of Local Government (MINALOC), Ubudehe program is managed by the Local Administrative Entities Development Agency (LODA) through District and Sector administration. Community and household projects are financed and implemented at village and household levels to help beneficiaries improve their living conditions.