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What are the current issues in Rwanda?

World Food Programme provides general food distribution and cash to refugees in refugee camps. Malnourished children, pregnant and lactating mothers as well as people on ART receive additional supplementary feeding to improve their nutritional status. WFP also provides support to the poorest and vulnerable communities to improve their food security. WFP, together with other UN agencies in Rwanda, developed a United Nations Development Assistance Plan (UNDAP), which outlines the strategic programme framework for the entire UN and is strongly linked with the national development programme, as outlined in Rwanda’s Vision 2020 and the second Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS-2) 2013-2018.

Rwanda is a low income, food deficit and least developed country, and ranks 163 (out of 188 countries) on the 2015 HDI. Rwanda has one of the highest population densities in Africa, with 416 people per square kilometre. Its population increases at an annual rate of 2.6 percent and the total population stands at 11.2 million. Rwanda has a limited natural resource base; the main sector is agriculture, which contributes to over 33 percent of the national gross domestic product (GDP) and generates 80 percent of total export revenue.

 Agricultural transformation has been identified as the main pillar for achieving economic development and food security. Rwanda plans to attain a per capita income of USD 1,240 by the year 2020 from the current level of USD 644. Since the 1994 genocide and the ensuing collapse of civil society, economy and social services, the Government has embarked on rebuilding the country and improving the quality of life. Good governance, productive and market oriented agriculture, and regional and international economic integration are three of the six pillars of the Rwanda Vision 2020. Rwanda was also the first country to sign the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) compact and to secure funding, thus confirming malnutrition and food insecurity as one of the Government's key priorities.

Despite impressive economic recovery, with an annual GDP growth of 7.2 percent since 2010, household food insecurity continues to be a major challenge. According to the December 2015 CFSVA, the prevalence of chronic malnutrition among children under five years of age is still high at 37 percent despite a significant improvement from 43 percent in 2012. The northern and western areas of the country, bordering Lake Kivu and along the Congo Nile Crest, are the most affected areas, with rates of stunting at over 60 percent. Life expectancy in Rwanda is 64 years and households headed by women or orphans account for 36 percent of the population.

Rwanda is currently home to over 73,000 Congolese refugees hosted in five camps and over 70,000 Burundian refugees hosted at the Mahama camp, three reception centres and in urban settings. Security in the region remains precarious, particularly in eastern DRC and Burundi, thus reducing the prospects of repatriation of the refugees in the near future. Rwanda signed a cessation clause in 2009 to end the refugee status of around 70,000 Rwandans still living as refugees and asylum seekers in neighboring countries, including DRC, Malawi, Uganda, and other African countries.

What the World Food Programme is doing in Rwanda

According to WFP's country strategy, food assistance is provided with the aim of improving food and nutrition security among food insecure households in Rwanda so that people are well nourished, able to develop to their full potential, and live in resilient communities which are sustainably maintained by effective institutions at all levels. In line with its strategic shift from 'implementer' to 'enabler', WFP provides technical expertise to strengthen capacity in food and nutrition security.

The Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation (PRRO) aims to meet the food and nutrition needs of registered refugees in camps and Rwandan returnees. Registered refugees in camps receive monthly food rations to meet 100 percent of their needs, as they have very limited access to other food sources.

Rwandan returnees are supported with a food assistance package to cater for their needs for the first three months following their return. The most vulnerable receive additional food rations under targeted safety-net programmes: school meals; supplementary feeding for children between 6-59 months and pregnant and lactating women; and nutrition support for People Living with HIV (PLHIV) on anti-retroviral treatment.

Through the Common Country Programme, WFP focuses on enhancing government capacity to design and manage nationally owned hunger solutions and on modelling innovations in food assistance programming. WFP supports the government's efforts to link smallholder farmers with markets, implements direct food assistance to fight chronic malnutrition and increase the resilience of vulnerable communities, and builds national capacity in vulnerability analysis and disaster risk reduction.

WFP focuses on ensuring gender equality in the distribution and management of food and cash. Women participate and take up leadership positions in refugee camp food management committees and in smallholder farmer cooperatives.

Featured Rwanda publications

  • Rwanda: WFP Country Brief (PDF, 351 KB)

    A Country Brief provides the latest snapshot of the country strategy, operations, operational highlights (achievements and issues/challenges), partnerships and country background.

Looking for more publications on Rwanda? Visit the Rwanda publications archive.