A small, landlocked country with a population of 12 million people growing at 2.4 percent annually, Rwanda is one of the most densely populated countries in Africa. Since the 1994 genocide, the Government of Rwanda has recorded significant achievements in poverty reduction, gender equality, environmental sustainability, food production, education and public health, in line with the Millennium Development Goals.
However, 38.2 percent of the population continues to live below the poverty line and almost one fifth is food insecure. Levels of stunting among young children remain very high, at 35 percent.
Agriculture is the backbone of the economy, with 89 percent of rural households practising small-scale farming. However, poor rainfall, drought, floods and the limited amount of land that is suitable for agriculture, alongside pests and diseases, continue to pose risks to food security.
The situation is further aggravated by the presence of over 175,000 Congolese and Burundian refugees (as of January 2019), 91 percent of whom reside in refugee camps and the remaining 9 percent in urban areas. Many refugees have been in the country for decades, with limited prospects for repatriation in the immediate future, and rely almost completely on WFP food assistance. The “forgotten crises” in neighbouring countries, where protracted volatility is exacerbated by political instability, may lead to the further arrival of refugees in the coming years.
Leveraging its extensive experience and the contributions it has made in the country over many decades, the World Food Programme (WFP) in Rwanda works to build national capacity to formulate, manage and implement programmes for achieving Zero Hunger, by gradually shifting from being a direct implementer to being a catalyst and enabler. As an integral part of the United Nations ‘One UN’ agenda, WFP implements programmes which are 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 monthly food assistance – either in cash or through a mix of cash and in-kind – to 150,000 refugees living in camps, while promoting an enabling environment for their self-reliance and economic inclusion.
Supplementary nutritious food is provided to vulnerable groups, such as young children, pregnant and nursing women and people living with tuberculosis or HIV/AIDS. School children, including those from host communities around the camps, receive daily school meals.
Resilience building for climate-related shocks
WFP supports vulnerable populations to become more resilient through evidence-based policy and decision-making, disaster risk reduction and shock-responsive social protection. This includes Food Assistance For Assets programmes, where vulnerable rural communities are supported to build assets and rehabilitate infrastructure. WFP also provides technical assistance to the government to prepare for climate-driven disasters and strengthen national social protection nets.
Home-grown school feeding
WFP supports the Government of Rwanda in providing daily school meals to 83,500 children in 104 schools in the four most vulnerable and food insecure districts across the country. WFP and its partners also implement complementary activities at the supported schools to enhance education outcomes among the targeted students.
Improved nutrition, water and sanitation
To improve access to nutritious foods, water and sanitation services, WFP builds on its strengths in nutrition education, maternal, infant and young child feeding, nutrition sensitive programming, policy development, supply chain management, monitoring and evaluation and vulnerability analyses (VAM) in order to support government policies and priorities for reducing chronic malnutrition.
Support to smallholder farmers
WFP works to achieve greater national and regional market access for smallholder farmers. WFP assists members of farmers’ cooperatives by enhancing their governance, enabling them to reduce their post-harvest losses, facilitating their access to financial services and improving their food productivity. WFP also links farmers to potential commercial buyers as well as the government-led fortified blended food for nutrition programme and the WFP-led home-grown school feeding programme.