COPORWA was founded in 1995 under the name Caurwa (Communauté des Autochtones Rwandais = Community of the Rwandese Autochthons) to be the principal actor concerning the problematic of the Rwandese community of potters because no development actor at all was interested in the standards of living of this community.
Caurwa was confronted with a big problem on governmental side: They refused to recognize the potters’ community as the indigenous group of Rwanda by saying this could create an ethnical ideology and divisionism, which had led to the genocide against the Tutsis in 1994. Not to stop or suspend the activities in favour of the vulnerable potters’ community of Rwanda, Caurwa and the government agreed on the new denomination based on the profession of the community: pottery. Caurwa (Community of the Rwandese Autochthons) became COPORWA (Rwandese Community of Potters) and became officially incorporated (AM No. 71/11). In addition COPORWA became observer at the African Commission on Human and People’s rights in March 2008.
Thanks to COPORWA there has been a positive change for the Rwandese community of potters: COPORWA interested other local and international NGOs in working with the potters’ community in different fields. Following to the plea of COPORWA the Rwandan government has taken some action in the fields of education, health and housing in favour of the potters. Moreover COPORWA supported the community in the different fields like the legal assistance of more than 300 potters or the alphabetization of almost 1.000 adult potters.
And last but not least the community begins to get responsible for its problems, begins to have self-confidence and the marginalization and discrimination reduces.
Although COPORWA and other actors have made great efforts and have realized a lot in favour of the potters of Rwanda lots of problems concerning the bad living conditions persist: The lack of housing, the low level of education, the lack of land, the violation of the potters’ rights, the food insecurity, the lack of employment and the non representation at the different levels of decision making, which all requires a specific intervention.