Institutional requirements for aquacultural development in Africa: Lessons from Rwanda

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John F. Moehl; Joseph J. Molnar

Type of Document:
Scholarly Article


Westview Press

Date of Publication:

Place of Publication:
Boulder, CO


Abstract: Ethnic tension has been an enduring part of Rwanda’s history. In pre-colonial times, a patron-client relationship existed between the warrior Tutsi tribe and the peasant Hutus. During both the brief German colonial experience and the longer Belgian presence, domination of the majority Hutus by the Tutsi Mwami (chieftains) was used to maintain European control of the territory.

The civil war that led to the founding of Rwanda in 1962 was a rejection of both Belgian and Tutsi control of the state. During the same period, neighboring Burundi’s independence movement led to a Tutsi-dominated government. In the early 1990s, incursions into northern Rwanda by Tutsi exiles based in Uganda began to destabilize the country and ethnic tensions increased. Uganda President Yoweri Kaguta Musaveni is of Tutsi ancestry.

In 1992, Hutus comprised 90% of the population, the Tutsi 9%, and the Twa 1%. Hutu resentment of Tutsi victories and territorial concessions to the rebel forces led to village-level violence by Hutu militia and civilians. More than half a million lives may have been lost. After several military victories and the death of Rwanda’s long-standing leader, Juvenal Habyarimana, Tutsi forces gained control of the capital in 1994 and now comprise the main component of the government.

At this writing, unrepatriated Hutus living in camps in Zaire are reorganizing and rearming. Many perpetrators of the ethnic slaughter await trial in Rwandan jails. In addition to the vast number of ordinary citizens who were lost, many moderate and educated individuals from both tribes were systematically sought out and killed. The murdered doctors, educators, and other skilled individuals represent a tragic loss of human capital.

The work reported in this chapter was accomplished in the decade immediately preceding the most recent outbreak of hostilities. It nonetheless represents a set of experiences and approaches that bears on aquaculture development in Subsaharan Africa and other places where a weak or conflict-ridden state precludes the expectation of long-term government support for extension and other producer services for fish culture.

Additional Bibliographic Information

Moehl, J.F. and J.J. Molnar, 1996. Institutional requirements for aquacultural development in Africa: lessons from Rwanda. In: C. Bailey, S. Jentoft, and P. Sinclair (Editors), Aquacultural Development: Social Dimensions of an Emerging Industry, Westview Press, Boulder, CO, USA/Oxford, United Kingdom, pp. 233–248.

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