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The Mayange cluster is located in the Bugesera district of Rwanda, about 40km south of the capital Kigali. In a country known as the “pays des mille collines” (land of 1,000 hills), the terrain around Mayange is flatter and drier than the rest of the country and has traditionally been reserved for pastoral uses. The main crops are maize and beans.

The area suffers from sporadic rainfall and declining soil fertility, leading to endemic poverty, illness and a lack of economic opportunity. Unlike most of rural Rwanda, where individual homesteads are scattered across the hilly landscape, Mayange has several umudugudus, or settlements, of closely spaced dwellings, which the government built to house returnees after the 1994 genocide. Nyamata Church, where two mass graves hold the remains of 40,000 genocide victims, is contained within the village cluster.

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