Rwanda is a small, landlocked country. It is one of the most densely populated in Africa, with a population of 13.2 million people, growing at 2.3 percent annually. In the past two decades, the Government of Rwanda has recorded significant achievements in poverty reduction, gender equality, environmental sustainability, education and public health, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals.
The country’s economy remains predominantly dependent on agriculture, with 69 percent of rural households involved in small-scale farming on limited land. Irregular rainfall, drought, floods, pests and diseases, together with limited land for agriculture, continue to affect the food security situation in Rwanda.
Over 38 percent of Rwanda’s population lives in poverty, and nearly one fifth of the population is food insecure. Levels of chronic malnutrition among children under 5 years remain high, at 32.4 percent. Significant food price inflation in 2022 might affect food security in the country.
The World Food Programme (WFP) is supporting the Government and various partners in saving and changing the lives of the most vulnerable people. WFP is providing food and nutrition assistance to refugees and supporting the implementation of national priorities for achieving zero hunger and sustainable development. This includes school feeding, creating climate-sensitive assets such as land terraces and marshland rehabilitations, and supporting smallholder farmers throughout the entire food value chain. As an integral part of the United Nations One UN agenda, WFP also works with the Government to make the latter’s social protection system more inclusive and shock responsive, in line with Rwanda’s national planning processes and development programmes.
What the World Food Programme is doing in Rwanda
Food assistance to refugees and returnees
WFP provides targeted cash-based transfers to over 127,000 refugees in five camps, so they can buy food of their choice. We provide school meals for children, including those from host communities around the camps, to support their education and health. WFP contributes to improved livelihoods and self-reliance among refugees through productive asset creation. When disasters strike, we provide people with immediate food and nutrition assistance. Rwandan refugees returning home are also supported, to help them re-integrate into their communities.
Resilience building for climate-related shocks and social protection
Despite significant progress in poverty reduction over the past decades, many regions in Rwanda are still chronically vulnerable to poverty, food insecurity and malnutrition. This is worsened by recurring climate-related hazards such as droughts, floods and landslides. WFP is improving community resilience to natural and human-caused shocks through building assets such as land terracing, restoring marshland and strengthening national social protection programmes. WFP works with the Government to improve its emergency preparedness and response policy framework and systems, and on the development of the national school feeding programme.
Home-grown school feeding
WFP is supporting the Government’s development of a National School Feeding Strategy and a Financing Strategy for the national school feeding programme. Nutritious school meals are provided to 117,000 pre-primary and primary students across 140 institutions in the country. Smallholder farmers supply fresh produce to schools, which benefits the local economy. WFP and its partners also implement complementary activities at the supported schools to enhance education outcomes among the targeted students.
WFP is supporting children under 5 years, adolescents, and pregnant and nursing women and girls with improved access to nutritious foods, to reduce chronic malnutrition. WFP builds on its strengths in nutrition education, supply chain management, vulnerability analysis, and monitoring and evaluation, to support Government policies and priorities. WFP works with civil society organizations and private sector partners to bring nutritional benefits and sustainable agricultural development closer to the most vulnerable communities across the country and the region. WFP provides additional specialized nutritious food for the prevention and treatment of malnutrition to vulnerable groups, such as young children, pregnant and nursing women, and people living with tuberculosis or HIV/AIDS.
Support to smallholder farmers
WFP works to help smallholder farmers, especially women, have increased supplies and access to markets. This includes strengthening smallholder farmer cooperatives, improving access to finance and predictable markets, implementing initiatives to reduce post-harvest losses, and providing access to inputs and services for an improved quality of grains and legumes. WFP also links farmers to potential commercial buyers, as well as to government-led programmes of fortified blended food for nutrition and home-grown school feeding. In addition, WFP promotes value chain employment opportunities for young people in vulnerable communities.
Emergency preparedness and response
Rwanda’s is prone to natural hazards such as extreme weather events linked to climate change and environmental degradation. WFP is on the ground ready to support the Government and the humanitarian community with adequate, timely, cost-efficient, and agile supply chain services and expertise necessary to effectively respond to an emergency. WFP strengthens preparedness efforts for disaster response to minimize the impact on communities.
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