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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 151 out of 187 countries based on the 2014 UNDP Human Development Report. Rwanda has one of the highest population densities in Africa, with 416 people living per square kilometre. The total population stands at 11.2 million, with an annual increase rate of 2.6 percent. Agriculture contributes 33 percent of the national gross domestic product (GDP) and generates 80 percent of export revenue. Rwanda plans to increase its per capita income from USD 644 to USD 1,240 by 2020.

Since the 1994 genocide, the country has been rebuilding itself and improving the population's 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 the first country to sign the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) Compact and to secure funding, thus addressing malnutrition and food insecurity as Government priorities.

Despite Rwanda's impressive annual GDP growth rate of 7.2 percent since 2010, household food insecurity remains a major challenge. According to the 2012 CFSVA, the national prevalence of chronic malnutrition (stunting) among children under five years is high (43 percent), but in northern and western areas bordering Lake Kivu and along the Congo Nile Crest rates are over 60 percent. Life expectancy is 64.1 years and households headed by women or orphans account for 36 percent of the population.

Rwanda currently hosts 77,700 refugees, mostly from the Democratic Republic of Congo, in five refugee camps within which livelihood opportunities and access to land for cultivation are limited. Due to the comprehensive solutions strategy agreed in June 2013 for Rwandan refugees who fled between 1959 and 1998, it is expected that 20,000 Rwandans will return by the end of 2015.

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. This project contributes to Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 1, 2, 4, 5 and 6.

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. This project contributes to MDGs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7 and 8.

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.