In 1982, Rhineland-Palatinate and the Republic of Rwanda sealed the first partnership between a federal state and an African country through an exchange of letters between the two governments. The basic idea was to develop a so-called grassroots partnership, which would be decentralised and organised close to the people. Under their own responsibility, the Rwandan partners propose projects that they consider most urgent and necessary. On the Rhineland-Palatinate side, the partners then endeavour to provide financial and material support.
The model of decentralised, citizen-oriented and basic need-oriented development cooperation has met with a great response and approval among the population. Today, more than 50 initiatives and Rwandan groups in municipalities, towns and rural districts participate in the partnership. More than 180 schools, 40 municipalities and numerous parishes, associations, universities and technical colleges have also established relationships with the corresponding partners in Rwanda.
We have been accompanying the people in Rwanda on their way to a good future for almost four decades. Our projects do not pursue utopian goals, but take up concrete everyday problems such as the improvement of education, health and, for example, the supply of clean drinking water. To date, around 100 million euros have flowed into the approximately 2,300 projects, and one fifth of the funds have been raised by the people of Rhineland-Palatinate through donations. They have thus contributed to the fact that the partnership, despite all the setbacks in difficult times, has become the model of success that it presents itself as today. A model of success that is unique in development cooperation because it brings the people of both countries together and involves them in its work. In addition, it is supported by the people and not by large organisations and it is based on mutual understanding and trust. For this reason, our partnership will continue to play a key role in the development of relations between Germany and the countries and peoples of Africa.
The partnership between Rhineland-Palatinate and Rwanda is also having an effect in Rhineland-Palatinate. Many people were made aware of the need and problems, not in a vacuum, but by means of concrete examples from our partner country. Within the framework of the partnership, many citizens were motivated to become involved in development policy of their own; indeed, it is fair to say that the partnership with Rwanda has become a part of the political culture of our federal state.
Since 1982 our partnership has experienced the eighth Millennium Development Goal of the United Nations, the founding of international partnerships within the framework of the Programme of Action 2015. This international reputation of the "Jumelage" is an incentive and motivation for our work in the partnership, which today, 39 years after its founding, still focuses on contacts with representatives of civil society in Rwanda and on ensuring that people receive rapid help without major detours. The fact that we have been living this successfully for decades is cause for rejoicing and pride.
Our Rwandan partner communities have their own partnership committees, which advise on the projects and decide which ones are to be implemented in the communities. A similar structure exists in Rhineland-Palatinate. In most districts, congregations or parishes, friendship associations or committees have been set up to cultivate relations with Rwandan partners, coordinate individual projects and endeavour to finance them. The countless personal contacts, the mutual visits, the professional cooperation of many citizens in local projects, which have strengthened the friendly relationship between the Rwandan and the Rhineland-Palatinate population over the years, cannot be quantified with money.
We hope that this homepage will make it even easier to bundle our development efforts for the benefit of our partner country, but also in the interest of our own future for this One World.
Minister for the Interior, Rhineland-Palatinate