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February 14, 2024

To improve the economic status of projects/programmes’ participants, Caritas Rwanda focuses on strengthening their financial capacity through savings and lending activities. Through VSLA groups, programmes’ participants are imparted with the necessary skills and knowledge in the selection, planning, and management of income-generating activities. In all these interventions and many others, Caritas Rwanda collaborates with specific beneficiaries whose identities and numbers are accurately documented. In addition to these, some benefit from the fruits of these interventions indirectly because they are not officially counted, called spillover effects. Those from the youth programmes, Youth For Youth (Y4Y) and Gera Ku Ntego (GKN), testify to these spillover effects.

The advantages of participating in VSLA groups are evident, as testified by Josephine Nyirangiramahoro. She is a member of the Twitezimbere Rubyiruko from the Rusizi district, Muganza sector, Gakoni cell, and Muhuta village. In 2022, she started her business of selling cassava flour with an initial capital of 50,000 Rwf. Through this business, she assisted her husband, who works as a farmer, in providing for the needs of their five children. She is so content with what she has achieved as two of their children have now graduated from high school. She has paid off the debt and her business is now equivalent to 80,000 Rwf. “My gains are significant considering the wide range of expenses they cover”, she asserts.

Members one of the VSLA with Caritas Rwanda’s employees (Development Department).

When asked about the advantages of having a mother who is a member of a savings and lending group, Lydie Tuyizere, 22, expresses that her family’s situation has significantly improved. Ever since her mother, Joséphine Nyirangiramahoro, joined the VSLA group, they no longer go to bed hungry. Additionally, being a part of this group has instilled in their family the significance of hard work and saving, not because of the surplus, but because of sacrifice and restraint. After her high school education, Lydie works alongside her mother in selling cassava flour, which allows her to earn a modest income and save 6000 Rwf per month in her savings group Dukorerehamwe. “I learned this from my mother,” she proudly states.

Uwizeyimana Olivier is a member of the VSLA Duterimbere in the Rusizi district, Kamembe sector, Cyangugu cell, Karangiro village. At the age of 25, Olivier, hailing from a family of 11 children, made the courageous decision to alleviate the burden on his family. Olivier not only assists his siblings with their school fees, as five of them are still pursuing their education but also shoulders the responsibility of healthcare expenses (CBHI) for his modest family, who rely on daily labour to make ends meet.

Before joining the VSLA group, Olivier had saved 500,000 Rwf as he was working with a businessman. In September 2021, he joined the DUTERIMBERERUBYIRUKO VSLA group, where he borrowed 300,000 Rwf he added to his savings to establish a shop with a value of 800,00 Rwf. He further borrowed 119,000 Rwf to expand the range of products available in his shop. He has successfully repaid all his debts, and his shop is now worth 3 million Rwf. Looking ahead, Olivier envisions building a house of 10 million Rwf. This ambitious goal serves as a testament to his unwavering hope for a brighter tomorrow.

Olivier in his shop.

The success stories of Oliver, Joséphine and Lydie illustrate how VSLA groups broaden the horizons of their members and foster a forward-looking mindset. One of the characteristics of development is the number of choices available to people. VSLA groups undoubtedly have the potential to offer these choices to their members, a path for their development and that of their families. As Caritas Rwanda’s mission is to help people in need and promote integral human development, there would be no better intervention than to help participants in its programmes stand on their own feet through VSLA groups.

Emmanuel Uwiragiye

Department of Development Director / Caritas Rwanda

February 6, 2024

From 29th to 30th January 2024, the Igire Implementing Partners, relevant government stakeholders, and USAID Rwanda teams participated in the Igire field visit and learning activity organized by Caritas Rwanda Igire-Gimbuka for OVC in the Nyamasheke district.

This field visit and learning activity was organized to gain a deeper understanding of the services provided to Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC). The objective was to explore the delivery approach and the collaboration with existing structures, including community volunteers, health facilities, and local leadership, to provide comprehensive clinical and community-based services to OVC.

In the afternoon of 29th January, the above-mentioned activity started with a brief session on the OVC program by Caritas Rwanda, as well as the itinerary and services to be visited. After the presentation, the participants asked a lot of questions, especially focusing on the non-suppressing program participants. It was revealed that only 1% of the 2003 program participants, who were living with HIV according to the Igire-Gimbuka presentation, fell into this category.

The Igire-Gimbuka team responded by stating that there are numerous factors contributing to this issue, with a common one being the reluctance of young participants to accept the situation. In light of this, the USAID team recommended that the Igire-Gimbuka team undertake comprehensive research to identify the specific reasons behind this resistance. By doing so, they can then provide the necessary support to help these individuals overcome their reluctance and effectively suppress the issue at hand.

The participant appreciated the Family Matters Program qualifying it as important not only for the program participants but also for the whole society.  However, they raised concerns about its sustainability following the closure of the Igire-Gimbuka. The Igire-Gimbuka team said that working with the existing structures such as local leaders, IZU, and Umugoroba w’Umuryango who are involved. This collaborative effort will ensure the long-term sustainability of the Family Matters Program.

Another question was raised regarding the methods to effectively influence the mindset of children participating in the CBIM Program, to transform them into non-violent individuals. In response, the Igire-Program team emphasized their comprehensive approach, which involves continuous assessment of the children’s behavior and their adherence to sharing information, as well as their active prevention of gender-based violence (GBV). Additionally, a tool is employed before commencing the module to gauge the children’s comprehension of GBV prevention, and another assessment is conducted upon completion to determine the extent of their mindset transformation.

On January 30, the various participants in this activity visited the Coaching Boys Into Men (CBIM) clubs of GS Nyanza (Bushekeri Sector) and GS Saint Nicholas (Kagano Sector), interacted with Case Management Volunteers (CMVs), Linkage Facilitators and staff at Kibogora Hospital and Gisakura Health Center. They also met with Igire-Gimbuka TVET Graduates on jobs at Gisakura Tea Factory and Atelier Hope/ Agakiriro.

Lambert Dushimimana, the Governor of the Western Province, interacting with children members of CBIM club at GS Saint Nicholas (Kagano Sector).

After interacting with Case Management Volunteers (CMVs), Linkage Facilitators, and staff at Kibogora Hospital, Mr Lambert Dushimimana, the Governor of the Western Province, urged the Igire-Gimbuka participants to seize the opportunity they have to become resilient. The children members of Coaching Boys Into Men (CBIM) clubs were encouraged to spread messages preventing GBV.

On the following day (January 31), the Igire Implementing Partners, relevant government stakeholders, and USAID Rwanda teams participated in the Igire field visit and learning activity organized by FXB’s Igire-Turengere Abana for DREAMS in the Nyanza district.

January 27, 2024

During their Journey of Hope in Rwanda to better understand the work carried out by CRS Rwanda and meet key stakeholders and partners, the CRS Board members and donors met with Caritas Rwanda team on Friday 26th January 2024. The conversation centered on the two organizations’ current partnership, fundraising strategies, and potential future knowledge sharing.

On the first day of their visit (January 22), these visitors together with CRS Rwanda and Caritas Rwanda staff attended a holy mass celebration at Saint Michel Cathedral. The visitors also met with his eminence Cardinal Antoine Kambanda, and they discussed the ongoing CRS partnership with the Catholic Church in Rwanda.

Group photo of CRS representatives, CRS Rwanda employees and Caritas Rwanda employees after the celebration of the Holy Mass at Saint Michel Cathedral.

The delegation also paid a visit to the Youth for Youth Project participants (implemented by the 3 diocesan Caritas and Vision Jeunesse Nouvelle, under the coordination of Caritas Rwanda and funding from USAID through CRS Rwanda) from the Rubavu District on 23rd January 2024, where they visited Jean D’Amour Tubanambazi, who cultivates mushrooms and combat the malnutrition in his local community, and Irakoze Obed who owns an agro-veterinary Pharmacy.

After meeting the Youth entrepreneurs, the guests visited as well the Diocese of Nyundo met Bishop Anaclet Mwumvaneza and discussed the ongoing partnership between CRS and the Diocese of Nyundo. Bishop Anaclet appreciated the support offered by CRS as a rapid response to the floods that affected the Diocese.

On 25th January 2024, at Nyirabashenyi Nurturing Care Hub in Nyabihu District, Gikuriro Kuri Bose team hosted the CRS country office representatives (donors, board members, Vice president), a trip to learn more about inclusive nutrition, food security, economic strengthening and ECD interventions to improve optimal nurturing care practices among families having children under five years. Caritas Rwanda was represented by Father Jean Paul, director of Caritas Nyundo/Gisenyi.

CRS representatives and donors at at Nyirabashenyi Nurturing Care Hub in Nyabihu District.

The Nyabihu District leaders appreciated the tremendous achievements of Gikuriro Kuri Bose Program (2015-2020), great contribution in stunting reduction from 59% in 2015 to 46% in 2020. They have also commended CRS and Caritas Rwanda for the effective collaboration and partnership in Nyabihu.

January 4, 2024
January 4, 2024

A story of change

Chantal Nyiramahire, a 42-year-old Congolese refugee and mother of four children, has completed primary education and lives in the Kiziba refugee camp.

In 2012, she received tailoring training but struggled to succeed due to a lack of business knowledge and her family’s poverty, consuming only one meal daily.

After being selected as a Caritas Rwanda’s beneficiary through the Poverty Alleviation Coalition (PAC) project in 2021, she was provided with different sessions of training including Financial Literacy, Entrepreneurship, income-generating activities, and an empowered world view among others which shaped her mind in terms of running profitable businesses. that capacity building was accompanied with a cash grant of 80,000RwF (around USD800) to run her business of cloth manufacturing.

After receiving that cash grant in March 2023, she began manufacturing and selling African loincloths and sewing for customers. With PAC Project training, she expanded to the US, targeting fellow refugees who went there for resettlement. “My business permits me to earn around Frw 115,000 monthly net profit, in addition to the sewing fees, and that allows me to take care of my family. As of now, we can’t run out of vegetables at home and we eat twice a day”. She declared.

She also claims to save Frw 10,000 in her savings group every week and to have Frw 4,200,000 in her bank account. Her working capital today is around 2.6 million Rwandan francs.

First and foremost, I appreciate the training I received, which is particularly beneficial to me. “Even now, I share my knowledge with my friends and teach them how to save and develop,” Chantal says, smiling.

To watch Chantal’s testimonial click here

December 11, 2023

Caritas Rwanda through the Igire-Gimbuka program, joined MIGEPROF and the Rubavu district and other partners, in the GBV clinic held in the Rubavu district on 5th, 6th and 8th December 2023. 120 pregnant and teen mothers accompanied by their parents benefited from various services, including psychological support and health services. The GBV clinic was held in alignment with the 16 days of activism against gender-based violence.

A total of 120 teenage mothers from four sectors of the Rubavu District, namely Rugerero, Rubavu, Kanama and Nyamyumbabenefited from sessions that helped them recover from trauma (as well as their parents). The sessions includedvoluntary HIV testing, screening for non-communicable diseases, accessing the national civil status services (birth registration), support in the formulation of new complaints, measure the weight and height of their children. In cases where the measurements were not satisfactory teenage mothers were provided with advice and guidance.

A RIB officer, helping a teenage mother to file her complaint during the GBV Clinic.

On the first day, the teen mothers (with their children) followed informative speeches on the importance of good education, rights of the child, encouragement to resume their studies. They were as well sensitized on the importance of proper healthcare and a balanced diet

The teen mothers also had the opportunity to ask questions pertaining to their health, national civil status services and the process of returning to school. Indeed, they asked for the maximum timeframe within which a child who has been raped should be taken to the hospital to receive HIV prevention medication. They were informed that the child must receive the medication within 48 hours or 3 days following the incident.

These teen mothers also raised the issue of unregistered births. Some of them were orphans and had not been registered themselves, while others had registered their children under false names. There were even cases where children were not registered at all. The officials from the civil status services who attended assured them that these problems will be quickly resolved.

After the motivational speech encouraging the teen mothers to return to school, the adolescents expressed their desire to pursue education. However, they  raised concerns about who would take care of their children, and the obstacle in obtaining school materials and other educational related needs. In response, they were informed that there are partners ready to provide assistance, especially Caritas Rwanda through its Igire-Gimbuka Program and their local sectors. Furthermore, it was mentioned that most parents were willing to take care of their grandchildren when adolescent girls will go back to school, and arrangements would be made for the children to attend ECD to facilitate parents of the teen mothers to carry out their daily activities.

In her opening speech, Mrs Pacifique Ishimwe, Vice Mayor of the Rubavu district in charge of social affairs, emphasized that being a teenage mother does not diminish one’s importance or hinder the realization of her dreams.. She reassured the teen mothers that all problems have solutions and that their contribution is essential to solving theirs.

Mrs Pacifique Ishimwe, Vice Mayor of the Rubavu district reassured the teen mothers that all problems have solutions and that their contribution is essential to solving theirs.

On the second day, the parents accompanied their children (teenage mothers). They participated in the psychological support sessions to overcome the trauma resulting from the pregnancy of teenage mothers (for them and for their parents but separately). There were also sessions to encourage child mothers to return to school, which is beneficial for teen mothers and their parents.

After the second day, parents and teenage mothers also came together to share what they had learned and gained throughout the GBV clinic. There were also discussions within each family, where the teen mothers shared their aspirations about what they want to do, whether to resume their studies or pursue  professional training. Some of the teen mothers expressed a need for financial support to start an income-generating activity. Their wishes have been recorded.

Discussions within each family.

On the final day of the GBV clinic, the adolescents accompanied by their parents met with local authorities from their residence and various partners, to discuss on how they can assist to handle the teenage mothers’ problems.

The statistics provided by the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion, as observed in the Rwanda Demographic and Health Survey 2019-2020 published in March 2022[1], the teenage pregnancy is at 5.1% among women aged 15-19 countrywide and 4.1% Western province (Rubavu: 5.5%, Karongi: 0.5%, Rutsiro: 2.1% and Nyamasheke: 2.2%). These alarming figures show how many of these children face various problems including dropping out of school, harassment from their family members, and struggling to provide for their children due to poverty, and family conflicts, among many others.

[1] https://www.statistics.gov.rw/publication/1779

November 22, 2023

Caritas Rwanda joined the Saint Charles Lwanga Nyamirambo Parish on 19th November 2023, to celebrate the seventh anniversary of the International Day of the Poor. The ceremony began with a holy mass at the parish, followed by food sharing and the distribution of gifts to the poor.

Father Jean Pierre Albert Kaberamanzi who celebrated the mass, referred to the message of Pope Francis for this International Day of the Poor with the theme “Do not turn your face away from anyone who is poor” Tob 4:7. In this message, Pope Francis says that the celebration of the World Day of the Poor is a fruitful sign of the Father’s mercy and a support for the lives of our communities and that its celebration becomes more and more rooted in the pastoral life of the Church, to enable us to discover ever the heart of the Gospel[1].

Pope Francis says that the elderly Tobit mentioned in this book did not only ask his son to worship God but also encouraged him to make concrete gestures, carry out good works, and practice justice.

After the Holy Mass, guests and around 200 invited poor people gathered in the Josephite Brothers Congregation’s conference room at Nyamirambo to continue the celebration of the day. The speeches of various participants were centered on love and, more specifically, sharing with the poor. The lunch of the day was shared and various gifts were given to the poor in that event. In his speech, Father Jean Pierre Albert Kaberamanzi explained that the word Caritas means love, and added that this love must be accompanied by charity works towards people around us.

Father Jean Pierre Albert Kaberamanzi explained that Caritas means love.

Nsabiyaremye Jean d’Amour, acting director of Caritas Rwanda’s Department of Social Welfare, who delivered his speech on behalf of the Secretary General of Caritas Rwanda, said that the Church’s teachings on love should be applied everywhere, that the person who receives assistance could also help someone else, if possible because even if a person feels poor, there is always someone else who may need his/her help. Everyone should listen to the poor, sympathize with the poor, and assist him/her.

Cécile Mukandamage, in her testimony, said that Caritas supported her enormously. “You know, it’s not easy to live in Kigali while you are poor. But Caritas provided me with food, clothes, and a house rent fee”, she said.

During the distribution of gifts, the students from Les Hirondelles de Don Bosco school offered school materials to the students from Rugarama Primary School. There was also the distribution of gifts (food) to the poor in this ceremony. The poor, who participated in the event, also received transportation fees of Frw 2,000 each.

the students from Les Hirondelles de Don Bosco school offered school materials to the students from Rugarama Primary School.

[1] https://www.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/messages/poveri/documents/20230613-messaggio-vii-giornatamondiale-poveri-2023.html

November 18, 2023

Together with the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family Promotion (MIGEPROF) and Rubavu District, Caritas Rwanda through its Igire-Gimbuka program conducted the campaign against gender-based violence with a focus on teenage pregnancy prevention in schools. It was held from 15th to 16th November 2023, in Rubavu District schools.

This campaign was carried out in the GS Rubavu II and GS Shwemu from Rugerero sector (on 15th November 2023) and GS Rambo from the Nyamyumba sector (16th November 2023).

The message was delivered through songs, dramas, and acrobatics demonstrations, which focused on calling on girls to avoid peer pressure that can cause them to adopt bad habits, and talk to parents when they see changes in their bodies and/or when they are sexually abused. They were also told that the sexually abused child should be immediately taken to the nearest Isange One Stop center to receive first aid and for evidence conservation.

Vision Jeunesse Nouvelle acrobats perfoming at GS Rubavu II.

After the theatrical performances by the Vision Jeunesse Nouvelle club, the students were asked about teen pregnancy prevention at school, and also had time to ask the presenters questions to gain a better understanding.

Aurelie Nyiransabimana, the Gender Equality and Social Inclusion Specialist (Caritas Rwanda / Igire-Gimbuka Program) interacting with students about the teenage pregnancy prevention.

Speaking at the campaign in various schools, Ms. Aline Umutoni, Director General of Family Promotion and Child Protection at MIGEPROF, encouraged girls to take good measures to prevent sexual violence against them, which can lead them to become parents while still children, and ruin their future.

As part of the campaign, the brightest students in the 2022-2023 school year (5 girls and 5 boys per school) were rewarded with notebooks, registers and pens. The girls also received sanitary towels for use during their periods.

Most brilliant students for 2022-2023 school year were given notebooks, registers, pens and sanitary pads for girls.

The figures provided by the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion, as observed in the Rwanda Demographic and Health Survey 2019-2020 published in March 2022[1], show that teenage pregnancy is at 5.1% among women aged 15-19 countrywide and 4.1% Western province (Rubavu: 5.5%, Karongi: 0.5%, Rutsiro: 2.1% and Nyamasheke: 2.2%).

This campaign was conducted in preparation for the 16 days against Gender-Based Violence, which is scheduled to begin on 25th November and end on 10th December 2023. The national theme for this year is: “#Unite! INVEST to Prevent GBV”.

[1] https://www.statistics.gov.rw/publication/1779

November 10, 2023

The “Youth for Youth” Project, which aims to support young people’s economic development through hybrid online and in-person support solutions, was officially launched on Wednesday, November 8, 2023, in Gicumbi District. It is implemented at both the national and diocesan levels by Diocesan Caritas in collaboration with the Episcopal Commission for Youth (CEPJ), under the coordination of Caritas Rwanda, with funding provided by Catholic Relief Service (CRS).

The Youth for Youth project was officially launched by Bishop Papias Musengamana of Byumba Diocese and Mrs. Parfaite Uwera, the acting Mayor of Gicumbi District at the Byumba Incubation Center for young people released from Prisons. Father Martin Nizigiyimana, the CEPJ secretary, and the priests caring for parish youth attended the event. There were also representatives of the private sector, financial institutions, youth, and executive secretaries of the sectors where the project will be implemented.

Bishop Papias Musengamana of Byumba Diocese and acting Mayor Parfaite Uwera officially launched the Youth for Youth in Gicumbi District.

In his speech, Bishop Papias urged everyone to work together from the start of the project until its completion. He added that it is an opportunity offered to young people, and asked them to take advantage of it. He called on youth having business ideas to submit them to the Youth for Youth Project staff, in order to have them developed into profitable projects.

Bishop Papias Musengamana of Byumba Diocese urged the youth to take advantage of the Youth for Youth Project.

Madame Parfaite Uwera thanked the partners for contributing to the Gicumbi youth’s economic development and promised the partnership so that the project’s objective would be achieved satisfactorily.

Acting Mayor Parfaite Uwera promised the partnership, in order to accomplish the project objectives.

Youth for Youth is a two-year project that is part of a series of projects aimed at youth economic development. This project will replace the “Gera Ku Ntego” Project which is also aimed at economic development through savings and internal lending groups.

On November 1, the Youth for Youth Project was launched in Rusizi District. It is planned that this activity will continue in other Catholic dioceses.

November 8, 2023

With the aim of reviewing the organization’s policies and other documents, 19 Caritas Rwanda employees with different responsibilities met in Musanze district (Fatima Hotel), from October 29 to November 3, 2023. During this workshop, the vice-president of Caritas Rwanda, Bishop Vincent Harolimana, who visited them on November 2, thanked them for the remarkable work they do, and invited them to pay more attention to the poor.

In four work groups, the employees reviewed over twenty documents, including policies and other documents about code of conduct, employee capacity building, procurement, anti-corruption and fraud, conflict resolution, information technology, communication, and other topics.

Every morning, they shared what they discussed in the groups on the privious day.The vice-president of Caritas Rwanda and the Bishop of the Diocese of Ruhengeri, Bishop Vincent Harolimana, paid a visit to the workshop participants toward the end of the day on Thursday, November 2, 2023. He thanked them for their outstanding work but reminded them that their work is not like any other job; rather, it is a shared mission of evangelization with the Catholic Church, which they should do well in order to improve the lives of many people they serve, who need love and support.

Bishop Vincent returned to the conclusions of this year’s synod which was held from October 4 to 29, that redefined the poor as the person who expects love, respect, acceptance and recognition from the Church, and who should receive more consideration. He added that apart from the poor, there are other categories of people who need love, including violence survivors, especially women, victims of human trafficking, the elderly, fetuses, and other people who need more attention. He asked Caritas Rwanda staff to show tenderness for the participants in various programs implemented by Caritas.

Bishop Visenti Harorimana reminded Caritas Rwanda’s staff that the mission they received is unique, a common evangelization mission with Caritas Rwanda.

The Caritas Rwanda’s policies are reviewed every five years. This team revised 15 existing policies, and developed 2 new policies and other documents used by Caritas Rwanda.

October 12, 2023

On Wednesday, 11th October 2023, the Secretary General of Caritas Rwanda, Father Oscar Kagimbura, visited the Mahama refugee camp located in Kirehe District, to observe the interventions of the Graduation project, funded by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

First of all, Father Oscar Kagimbura paid a courtesy visit to Farhat Jabeen Khan, the head of the UNHCR sub-office in Ngoma district. Their discussions focused on training the beneficiaries of the Graduation project on the skills needed in the labor market or the community-needed businesses so that after the training and receiving the cash grant, they all graduated.

From left to right: Aimable Wilson Mbarimombazi (Mahama refugee camp-site manager / Graduation Project), Jean d’Amour Nsabiyaremye (Graduation Project Coordinator), Farhat Jabeen Khan (head of UNHCR sub-office in Kirehe district), and Father Oscar Kagimbura (Secretary General of Caritas Rwanda).

Father Oscar Kagimbura also visited the Ministry of Emergency Management office in Mahama camp. The camp manager, Vuganeza André, congratulated Caritas Rwanda for improving the lives of the refugees and the host community members and called for the increase in the number of beneficiaries from the camp and host community.

Indeed, among the beneficiaries of the Graduation Project, 70% are refugees from the Mahama and Kiziba camps, while 30% the host community members. Vuganeza André explained that increasing the number of beneficiaries from the host community will help to promote their financial autonomy in parallel with that of refugees.

After listening to the testimonies from the savings and internal lending community group called “Abadahigwa mu iterambere rya Mahama”, Father Oscar Kagimbura asked them to continue to strengthen their unity, and work with the financial institutions for their sustainable economic development. “The financial institution will trust you, based on your unity”, he said. The members of this group requested that other refugees who have not yet benefited from the Graduation Project’s interventions be supported, so that they can find something to do and get out of poverty, as the support especially that becoming increasingly scarce in the camp.

Meeting with Abadahigwa mu iterambere rya Mahama SILC Group.

During this visit, the Secretary General of Caritas Rwanda, who was accompanied by the Priest of Rusumo Parish, Father Buregeya Félicien, visited some Graduation project beneficiaries who run businesses in the Mahama camp market, as well as pig farmers outside the camp. After talking with them and seeing how they fill out books about their daily business, they ask them to keep working hard for their sustainable development.

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