Rwandans Are Required By Law To Clean Their Community

On the last Saturday of the month, the roads are empty of cars and all shops are shuttered in Rwanda. That’s because the day is set aside for “Umuganda” — a community cleanup that’s held each month. It’s not a volunteer project, either. Rwandans 18 to 65 are required by law to participate, and those who don’t can be fined $6, which might sound like a small sum, but not when the average income is $150 a month. Umuganda is one reason Rwanda is known in Africa for its cleanliness. That wasn't always the case. Not long ago, in the early 2000s, garbage was more common in Rwanda. Today, the country lacks the decaying roadside trash piles and ditches choked with plastic bags. One reason for the country's cleanliness is a decade-long ban on plastic bags. Rwanda's government also employs professional street sweepers, gardeners and road crews, but ordinary citizens definitely do their part.