Over the last decade the life expectancy in Rwanda has doubled, the country is on track to meet most of the Millennium Development Goals, and the economy is growing. Momentum must be kept up to promote continued development in Rwanda. This project preserves the historic art form of Imigongo by establishing art studio space for the practice and teaching of the art form, as well as promotes the sale of new artwork that comes out of this project.
Nine of every 10 adults are subsistence farmers, and per capita income is less than a dollar a day. Despite annual economic growth of about 6%, Rwanda still ranks 194th out of 208 countries on the World Bank's most recent per capita income table. Many, including the country's president, Paul Kagame, argue that poverty exacerbated the tensions that erupted into 1994's genocide. To promote greater economic growth, Rwandans must identify their own means and mechanisms of income generation.
According to Paul Kagame, if the past is not to happen again,"we must grow our economy, create opportunities for higher wages, so that we create the conditions for tolerance, trust, and optimism." Foreign aid provides nearly half of the country's budget, but economic development is not often achieved through foreign aid. In fact, it can often be destructive. More productive and long-term is providing Rwandans with skills, resources, and tools to build their own means of production and industry.
The 1994 genocide in Rwanda destroyed the country's fragile economic base, impoverished the population, women in particular, and hampered the country's ability to attract private, external investment. Continued economic growth in the country, reduction of poverty, empowerment of women, and progress as a nation is dependent not only on foreign aid, but in the growth of diverse enterprises, skills, talents, and opportunities, such as the one offered by the Imigongo Art Co-op.
This project has provided additional documentation in a PDF file (projdoc.pdf).