KIGALI, Rwanda — Rwanda is one of Africa’s most storied and discussed nations. One of the less sought-after topics of discussion is the current information on poverty that Rwanda is facing. The country suffers consequences of the war that finished in 1994 and left a large part of the population in poverty. In this article, information about poverty in Rwanda and the solutions the country’s government is attempting to find to solve this issue are presented.
Top 10 Facts About Poverty in Rwanda
- Rwanda is tackling malnutrition caused by poverty. The Rwandan Agricultural Board has set in motion a plan to donate the chicken to destitute Rwandan citizens. Malnutrition is a hallmark of poverty in the country, with roughly 35 percent of Rwandan children being stunted due to malnutrition. The Rwandan government is taking a step in the right direction by choosing to support its destitute citizens through food and social assistance programs.
- Living conditions in Rwanda are improving. Various factors affect poverty and the health of those in poverty and thankfully, Rwanda is experiencing an increase in several areas. Since last year alone, access to electricity has increased by 12 percent, the number of households with metal roofs has increased by 6 percent and the number of people with radio has increased by 14 percent.
- Poverty reduction statistics appear to be skewed. A law professor from the University of Antwerp discovered in late 2016 that the government of Rwanda had changed the requirements, metrics and classifications for their poverty line assessments. In essence, the country’s recent statistics regarding poverty reduction do not reflect accurate information from 2014 and beyond.
- Homeless and poor Rwandans are being detained by the government. Under the disguise of “delinquency,” Rwanda’s government have rounded up those in poverty and destitution. The real reason for this detention is presumed to be political repression.
- Health insurance is guaranteed for citizens. One aspect of poverty is the lack of medical attention that many are not able to receive. Thankfully, the Rwandan government has designated funds to give every citizen basic health insurance regardless of financial situation.
- A large number of citizens are continuing to leave poverty regardless of the skewed statistics. From 2006 to 2012, roughly one million Rwandan out of 11 million citizens have been able to escape extreme poverty.
- The GDP per capita income in Rwanda is abysmal. The yearly average income of Rwanda’s citizens is equivalent to $748. President Paul Kagame has set Kagame’s Vision 2020, a plan that intends to make Rwanda middle-income economy by 2020. In order to reach this goal, Rwanda’s GDP per capita income would have to increase by $258.
- Occupation is a driving factor of inequality. The World Bank statistics on Rwanda in 2011 calculated that in the farming was the main occupation in five provinces of Rwanda. Rural farming has never been profitable for farmers who work constantly with little pay. Job retraining and export redistribution are needed to curb the effects of low paying jobs.
- Lack of education furthers economic inequality. Only 68 percent of Rwandan first graders go on to complete six years of their primary education. The reason for the high number of dropouts is the rudimentary system for jobs and the need for children to continue the work of their parents rather than seek their own educations. Along with familial reasons, malnutrition, health issues, quality of teachers and lack of one on one attention to students perpetuate this vicious cycle.
- UNICEF is protecting and revitalizing Rwandan citizens’ ability to escape poverty. The nonprofit organization UNICEF has committed to staying in Rwanda through 2023. Jointly with the Rwandan government, UNICEF will attempt to reduce malnutrition, provide viable and all-encompassing health care and provide opportunities for those emerging from below the poverty line.
While Rwanda continues to be one of the world’s poorest nations, nonprofits and the government of Rwanda are appearing to take healthy measures to reduce poverty. These joint actions are steadily improving living conditions for citizens of this war-torn nation.
– Zach Margolis