Rwanda is a small, landlocked country with limited natural resources and a modest mining industry. The population has grown at a rate of 2.6 per cent over the last 10 years, reaching a total of 10.8 million people in 2012. Rwanda has a population density of 416 persons per square kilometre, the highest in Africa.
The country is still largely rural (85 per cent) and dependent on agriculture. Rwanda has achieved extraordinary results in the two decades since its 1994 genocide. Thanks to strong economic growth over the last 10 years, poverty has declined from 57 per cent (2005) to 45 per cent (2011) but remains high in rural areas.
About one in four rural households live in extreme poverty. Poverty is a rural phenomenon in Rwanda, with 49 per cent of rural residents living in poverty compared with 22 per cent in urban areas (2010).
Poverty is highest (76.6 per cent) among households who obtain more than half their income from working on other people’s farms. Chronic malnutrition (stunting) afflicts 43 per cent of children under five.
The country’s long-term development goals are embedded in its Vision 2020, which is focused on good governance, development of human resources, a private-sector led economy, infrastructure development, market-led agriculture and regional economic integration. Vision 2020 seeks to transform Rwanda from a low-income, agriculture-based economy into a service-oriented economy by 2020.
Despite the country’s success in establishing a sound investment climate, foreign direct investment remains low. The main constraints to accelerating growth, investments and exports are lack of economic infrastructure, a limited skills base and increasing vulnerability to climate risks.
The agriculture sector is hard hit by climatic conditions, especially drought, intense and erratic rainfall, increasing incidence of high winds and seasonal temperature shifts. If not addressed, climate variability will impose significant economic costs – estimated at between US$50 million and US$300 million annually by 2030 – given the country’s dependence on rainfed agriculture.
In Rwanda, IFAD is working to reduce poverty by empowering poor rural men and women to participate in transforming the agriculture sector and in rural development, and by reducing their vulnerability to climate change.
Our country strategic opportunities programme in Rwanda (2013-2018) is aligned with the government's Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy II and the Strategic Plan for the Transformation of Agriculture III.
The IFAD country strategic opportunities programme has four main objectives, focused on:
- sustainably increasing agricultural productivity through management of natural resources and investment in physical and social capital, including scaled-up agricultural intensification;
- developing climate-resilient export value chains, post-harvesting processes and agribusiness to increase market outlets;
- adding value to agricultural produce and generating employment in rural areas; and
- improving the nutritional status of poor rural people and vulnerable groups.
Results-based country strategic opportunities programme (COSOP) Arabic | English | French | Spanish
Rwanda is the most densely populated country in Africa, with 416 inhabitants per square kilometre.
The poverty rate is highest in rural areas, where 71.2 per cent of the country’s population lives (2015). The percentage of people living in poverty in rural areas is 49 per cent compared with 22 per cent in urban areas.
Since 1981, IFAD has supported 16 programmes in the country for a total of US$283.8 million, benefiting 634,300 poor rural households.