Amizero Co-operative helps Rwandan households manage domestic waste


Notes to broadcasters

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For over two decades, Rwandan people have been experiencing difficulties related to the war and the genocide, and their consequences. The Rwandan government has established a favourable environment to consider and address women’s problems. Several initiatives have been created to help women. In these government initiatives, women are being encouraged to recognize their strength and look for solutions to their problems.

As part of this process, several associations were born. One of these not-for-profit associations is the Amizero Association, a women’s co-operative whose goal is to provide assistance to women in distress. Its activities include agriculture, small businesses, management of household wastes in the city of Kigali, and strengthening the capacity of women. Unlike the agricultural producer co-ops featured in the other scripts in this package, the women’s co-operative featured in this script is an urban worker-owned co-op.

The Amizero Association has tried to assist its members to develop themselves despite the difficulties related to the changes in the country after the war and genocide. The present script may inspire women in Rwanda and elsewhere to recognize their potential to find solutions to their problems within themselves.

The script is based on actual interviews with group members. Like other scripts in this package, it is an example of how co-operative groups can help members meet their individual goals, while contributing to larger community or even national goals.

You could use this script as inspiration to research and write a script on a similar topic in your area. Or you might choose to produce this script on your station, using voice actors to represent the speakers. If so, please make sure to tell your audience at the beginning of the program that the voices are those of actors, not the people involved in the original interviews.


Fade in music for 20 seconds, then fade out under the voice of the host

Dear friends and listeners of Radio Salus, hello and welcome to today’s show, a show that talks, as usual, about the environment. The title of today’s show is: “Women earn a living by helping households manage domestic waste.” In this show, we are going to talk about how women in the Amizero Association are making efforts to manage household waste in the city of Kigali. We are also going to talk about how this household waste management project allows women from Amizero to earn their living. The show is prepared and presented by Jean Paul Ntezimana. Stay tuned!

Background music fades in for five seconds then out

Dear listeners, more than half of the Rwandan population are women. Women take care of the family in many ways. These women include widows, heads of families, women with physical disabilities and traumatized women, healthy women, and women from all walks of life. But not all women have the same economic capacity. Today’s show talks about women who earn their living by helping households manage domestic waste. We will be talking with members of the Amizero Association Co-operative’sAbakunda isukugroup.Abakunda isukumeans, “those who like cleanliness and hygiene.”

But before speaking to the members of the Amizero Association in the field, we will hear from Floride Mukarubuga, the President of Amizero Association. Mrs. Mukarubuga also foundedAbakunda Isukuand other co-operatives. She tells us briefly about the Amizero Association.

The Amizero Association is a not-for-profit group founded even before the 1994 genocide. Our objective is to provide assistance to all kinds of women in distress – genocide widows, AIDS widows, all kinds of women in distress.

Because our beneficiaries are very numerous, we formed groups to better organize the activities that women can do to help themselves. We have many groups. We trained them in agriculture, in braiding hair, in wicker work, in small business, and in the management of domestic waste.

We also thought that it would be a good idea to supervise the women’s children in the absence of their mothers. Women used to go to work but their children stayed at home. It was a problem. So we created a supervision centre for our beneficiaries’ children.

Fade in background voices, hold for 10 seconds, then fade and hold under: Take, wait, ok, pass me another bag, there, oh it’s heavy …

We are in Kacyiru, a neighbourhood in the city of Kigali. Bags of domestic waste lie in piles along the street. Women and girls come and add other bags to the piles. Flies circulate amongst the bags. About a hundred metres away, a truck is parked and intense activities are happening around it.

Fade up background voices for five seconds, then under

A lady about forty years old is supervising the work. Her name is Mrs. Kantengwa Marianne.

The person in charge of hygiene here in Kacyiru invited us to come and help them load this domestic waste onto the truck and take it to the main dump in Kigali. I don’t know if we’re going to finish today because they have a lot of waste. I’ve heard that it’s been a while since they have rid their households of this waste.

Mrs. Marianne, why are you working with domestic waste?

It’s about fighting dirt, it’s about hygiene, and it’s about health! We thought about this project way back, and started around the year 2001, when we saw hygiene problems here in the city. At that time, we started a waste management project in the district of Nyarugenge. Cleaning up households involves a combination of activities: participating in the clean-up of the city, transforming waste into fuel so that inhabitants no longer cut trees for firewood and destroy the forests, and finding compost to fertilize our gardens in the valley of Kicukiro district, here in Kigali. Amizero has been making little bricks from domestic waste to replace the wood used for cooking fires. All this is meant to improve our living conditions.

You have many projects! Are all these projects still ongoing?

It’s not easy! With the 2005 national law on safeguarding the environment, the district confiscated the plots that women owned in the valley. So, making manure for fertilizer has slowed down and stopped. Today, we have a Belgian researcher who is studying how we can improve the production of household fuel from waste so that we can almost completely replace the use of firewood. We have improved how we transport domestic waste. As you can see, we’re using a truck, and it’s our truck!

How important is this job for you, Marianne, personally?

Where can I start? This is the only job I’ve ever had. I have three children, and this job helped me educate my children. Two of them are in secondary school; the other one has already completed his secondary school education.

This job helps me build and support my family. My family doesn’t suffer from poverty like before. I have also learned how to discuss things with others. I’m not shy about speaking out anymore. Discussing things is very important. I get a lot of advice from discussions with the other women. I’m not alone anymore.

In the past, I don’t know if I could say that I had any income. When we started the project, I had a monthly income of 10,000 Rwandan francs (Editor’s note: about $US17). Today, because we experienced spectacular growth, I earn 25,000 francs (about $US42). That’s quite something for me!

Thank you, Marianne. But before letting you go back to your work, do you have something more to say about the importance of this work?

Really, I don’t know how to talk about it – it’s so important. I told you that in the past I had no income, and today I get some. Also, I have health insurance, and I have been trained in several areas: health, family management, and family planning.

Background music fades in then out

Dear listeners of Radio Salus, you’re listening to our show on the environment. The title of our program today is: “Women earn a living by helping households manage domestic waste.” We are with the members of the co-operativeAbakunda isuku,a branch of the Amizero Association. A big thank you to Marianne! Since she’s leaving us to continue her work, we will take this opportunity to speak to the people of this neighbourhood.

My name is Jeanne Umurerwa and I live here in Kacyiru. As you can see, we have no place to throw our domestic waste. This is the city. In the countryside, they make compost with domestic waste, but here it’s impossible. We keep waste in bags. When the waste truck doesn’t come quickly, the smell becomes more and more intense at home. When there are two or three waste bags at home, the smell is bad. What gives some relief is that Amizero doesn’t ask a lot of money. We pay 1,000 francs (Editor’s note: about US$1.70) a month per household, so it’s not expensive! That’s very important. Amizero helps us enormously!

Thank you, Jeanne, and have a nice day.

Background music fades in then out

Before leaving Kacyiru, dear listeners, here’s another very active lady, working from the back of the truck. She is standing next to a man who is about thirty years old, and they are both wearing red overalls as their uniform. Wearing a traditional cap, with sweat on her forehead, Domitille Uwafurika continues working. She receives bags of domestic waste and then empties them, sorts the waste and returns the bags to the residents. Here is the sound of the work.

Background voices
: Take, wait, ok, pass me another bag, there, come on over here too, ok, again, who’s left? Me! Come, come!

Fade voices and hold under Domitille’s voice

I’m sorting the biodegradable wastes, the plastics and the metals. It’s an order from the environment people. It’s not easy at all, but we do it to follow their instructions. That law makes our work a bit slower. Instead of making four trips to the dump with the vehicle or even six, we now make only three per day. However, we are committed to working for a healthy environment! After collecting this waste, we carry the sorted wastes to the big garbage dump in Nyanza.

Background sounds fade in for five seconds then fade under

It’s very hard work – the smell, the strength that we need to use, it’s really difficult. However, we benefit from it. My work helps me educate my three children and I contribute to my family, together with my husband. But today, prices are going up and they are more than my salary. When we started with the co-operative, I made 700 francs per day (about $1.17 US). Today, I work for 800 (about $1.35 US), but the value remains the same, or is even less. But what I must highlight is that my life has changed because of the many trainings provided by Amizero. I’m 42 and I have only three children. If I wasn’t a member of Amizero, and if I hadn’t benefited from its trainings, I would have many children. You are familiar with how typical Rwandan families have many children, right?

Fade up background sounds and hold for five seconds, then cross fade into short musical break

Dear listeners, we are almost at the end of our show on the environment. But before closing, Floride will tell us about Amizero’s vision.

Because the government wanted to promote commercial production and entrepreneurship, we have transformed our groups into commercial co-operatives. Our vision is most importantly to strengthen those co-operatives. Today, our technical assistance to those co-operatives has lessened because we want the co-operatives to become more independent and self-sustaining. We are staying at the strategic level only, by giving training, advice on management and operations, and project analysis. We want to focus on designing projects for the development of co-operatives. We are also working with a Belgian researcher to improve the production of fuel from waste. If this project succeeds, it will really be a big thing.

Dear listeners, the management of domestic waste is very important for the environment, and for health. Let’s hope that you listeners are going to sort your waste at home to set aside the biodegradables, the plastics and the metals, like Amizero does. Let’s hope also that nobody will despise the work. Everything that is done well can bring benefits, as the members of Amizero say.

Thanks to all the members of Amizero for your efforts to clean up the households and the city in general. This is another co-operative effort that is helping members’ lives and helping the environment for all. Thank you, dear listeners, for following us. You were in the company of Jean Paul Ntezimana. See you next time!


  • Contributed by: Jean Paul Ntezimana, journalist at Radio Salus, Rwanda, a Farm Radio International broadcasting partner.
  • Revised by: John JulianDirector, International Communications & Policy, Canadian Co-operative Association.

Information sources

  • Powley, Elizabeth. Rwanda: Women Hold Up Half the Parliament, pages 154-163, in Women in Parliament: Beyond Numbers, edited by Julie Ballington and Azza Karam.  International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA), 2005.
  • Association Amizero

Interviews with:

  • Mrs. Mukarubuga Floride, President of the Amizero Association (interviews on April 21 and August 17, 2011)
  • Marianne Kantengwa, agent of Abakunda Isuku, Amizero Association (interview on August 19, 2011)
  • Domitille Uwafurika, agent of Abakunda Isuku, Amizero Association (interview on August 19,  2011)