Imihigo is the plural Kinyarwanda word of Umuhigo, which means to vow to deliver. Imihigo also includes the concept of Guhiganwa, which means to compete among one another.
Imihigo describes the pre-colonial cultural practice in Rwanda where an individual sets targets or goals to be achieved within a specific period of time. The person must complete these objectives by following guiding principles and be determined to overcome any possible challenges that arise.
As part of efforts to reconstruct Rwanda and nurture a shared national identity, the Government of Rwanda drew on aspects of Rwandan culture and traditional practices to enrich and adapt its development programs to the country’s needs and context. The result is a set of Home Grown Solutions - culturally owned practices translated into sustainable development programs. One of these Home Grown Solutions is Imihigo.
In 2000, a shift in the responsibilities of all levels of government as a result of a decentralization program required a new approach to monitoring and evaluation. Local levels of government were now responsible for implementing development programs which meant that the central government and people of Rwanda needed a way to ensure accountability. In 2006, Imihigo (known also as performance contracts) was introduced to address this need.
Since its introduction, Imihigo has been credited with improving accountability and quickening the pace of citizen centered development activities and programs. The practice of Imihigo has now been extended to ministries, embassies, and public service staff.