In the wake of the 1994 genocide, the Rwandan Patriotic Front inherited the remnants of a highly centralized state administration. For a number of years the government engaged in crisis management, attempting to meet the basic needs of a traumatized population. In 2000, in an effort to improve local service delivery, the RPF-led government began a program of decentralization. Under the new arrangement, mayors were responsible for implementing development programs. A chief concern for the central government was how to make mayors accountable. In response to this challenge, the government in 2006 launched an innovative system known as the imihigo process. Imihigo had its roots in a pre-colonial Rwandan cultural practice whereby leaders or warriors would publicly vow to achieve certain goals and face public humiliation if they failed. The modern imihigo process linked this traditional Rwandan practice with planning, monitoring and oversight. By 2010, government officials believed that the imihigo process had resulted in improved service delivery in the districts.
Daniel Scher drafted this case study with Christine MacAulay on the basis of interviews conducted in Rwanda in May 2010.