Street stall in Rwanda selling carrots

Social situation COVID-19 pandemic is slowing down successful development

Rwanda has made remarkable strides in its development in recent years. Per capita gross national income is low, but it has tripled over the last 20 years.

According to Rwanda’s government, the share of poor people in the country's population has dropped from almost 60 per cent in 2000 to 38 per cent in 2016. The share of extremely poor people fell from 40 to 16 per cent in the same period. Yet the momentum has slowed – figures have hardly improved since 2013.

More than one third of the population is chronically undernourished, children in rural areas are especially hard hit.

Rwanda’s social development was significantly set back by the COVID-19 pandemic. Measures that were taken early on to contain the pandemic have so far prevented the collapse of the health system. Yet the economic and social fallout is dramatic. Per capita income has fallen markedly. According to World Bank estimates more than 550,000 people have slipped back into poverty.

Poor and especially vulnerable groups have suffered worst from the measures. Social participation, for instance, has become much more difficult. Many children were unable to attend online classes. Business has dried up during lockdowns for a large number of micro entrepreneurs. At the same time, the cost of living has gone up significantly; food prices, for instance, have soared.

Education and health

Considerable progress has been made in the area of education in recent years. By introducing free schooling, for example, Rwanda has succeeded in boosting school enrolment rates considerably. Now 95 per cent of all school-age children are attending primary school. The duration of school attendance has also gone up visibly; 97 per cent of all children completed primary school in 2019 according to the World Bank (25 per cent in 2000). However, the quality of schooling is still extremely poor.

The mortality rate for under-fives dropped from 179 deaths per 1,000 children to 34 between 2000 and 2019. Maternal mortality rates, too, have been considerably reduced. In 2000, more than 1,100 women died per 100,000 live births; this number fell to just 248 women in 2017.

Life expectancy increased from 49 years in 2000 to 69 years in 2019.

As at: 23/02/2022