Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Community Health in Rwanda

In the country of Rwanda, plastic bags are illegal. Instead of using one time disposable and cheaply made plastic bags, the entire country uses reusable cloth bags which can durably last much longer. It is no surprise that the streets of Kigali are so clean and void of plastic and other refuge. Traffic is also not allowed in the country, and many stores are not even open until after 11 a.m., which also limits the amount of pollution created from cars idling their engines.

During the last Saturday of each month, there is something called "Umuganda," which represents a sense of both community and a payment owed to society. It has been Rwandan law since 2005 that all able-bodied people between the ages of 18 and 65 are required to clean their neighborhood streets and sidewalks. This reflects public health, environmental health, and gives people an incentive to not litter. it can also attract investment and development.

Though Rwanda has a long way to go before it is a developed country and has a full-fledged democracy, it has a great sense of community. This is even more surprising to find in the country because a few decades ago during the Rwandan genocide, approximately 500,000 to 1,000,000 people died.

A healthy community would not be the first thing you would think Rwanda would have after such a disaster, yet despite their past strife, Rwanda is getting it very right regarding a healthy community and environment. If a country such as Rwanda can have such a close sense of community and environmental health, than it is very believable that we, in a more developed country, can do the same thing. We are heading in the right direction with many places banning the use of plastic bags, but there is always more that can be done.


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