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Child Malnutrition in MaliAfrica is the only continent in the world in which poverty and malnutrition are on the rise. In a vast country with an undiversified economy, Malian households are especially vulnerable to poverty food insecurity.

Recently, Mali has faced “shocks” to its economic profile, including from a partial drought and internal strife. A 2013 World Bank study found that a 25 percent increase in cereal prices and 25 percent decrease in cereal production would push over 600,000 individuals to food insecurity levels in Mali. In addition, sustainably high population growth rates have risen the number of malnourished individuals in the country.

Effects of Child Malnutrition in Mali

While millions of Malians of all ages are affected by food insecurity, malnutrition is the second highest cause of death of children under the age of five. Almost 900,000 Mali children are at risk of global acute malnutrition in Mali, including 274,000 facing severe malnutrition and at risk of imminent death, according to UNICEF and the World Bank. To put this in the context of the country’s population, a 2013 World Bank study found that 44 percent of Malian households have at least one chronically malnutritioned child.

Malnutrition leads to devastating, long-lasting effects on young people. Research by an associate professor at the Federal University of São Paulo, Ana Lydia Saway, shows that malnutrition is linked to higher susceptibility to gain central fat, lower energy expenditure, higher blood pressure and disruptions in insulin production. These are all factors which heighten the risk of other chronic diseases later in life. 

How Mali is Combatting the Issue

Child malnutrition in Mali is a significant concern, requiring action and deserving worldwide attention. But a major problem limiting international assistance comes in the form of funding for aid.

In May, UNICEF reported that limited donor interest in the region has made it increasingly difficult for the organization to provide children with therapeutic food necessary to combat malnutrition. Funding for humanitarian organizations is low, as nearly 80 percent of UNICEF’s $37 million call for humanitarian aid for the year 2018 has not been raised.

“The children of Mali are suffering in silence, away from the world’s attention,” UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta H. Fore said during a visit to the country this year. “Amid increasing violence, more children are going hungry, missing out on learning and dying in the first days of life.”  

Still, community and international-based organizations are working to mitigate the effects of child malnutrition in Mali. For example, in the capital of Ségou Centre, the local population, with the help of the World Bank and Swiss Corporation agency, is working to provide necessary social services to its commune.

The third phase of this project involved the decentralizing of health facilities, which were starchly underequipped. The commune recently constructed a community health center, showing promising bottom-up action within Mali. Other organizations are helping out to create sustainable progress in development, including Groundswell International.

Furthermore, farmers and processors in Mali have been working together to increase the presence of Misola flour to combat malnutrition. During processing, vitamins and minerals are added to the flour, targeting those with nutritional deficiencies. 

A 2012 study published in the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism found that Misola can help rehabilitate undernourished children and help those with depressed immune systems. “The porridge made from the flour allows for a nutritional transition from breast milk to traditional solid food,” Fernand Rolet, co-President of the Misola Association, said. 

Overcoming Child Malnutrition Globally

Rwanda provides a prime example that overcoming child malnutrition is possible. The nation, which has a similar wealth level to Mali, has made progress in lowering malnutrition levels. A 2015 Comprehensive Food Security and Vulnerability Access Report found that the level of stunting in young children dropped seven percent from three years prior. In Rwanda, the World Food Programme has been largely active, supplying food assistance such as providing meals for thousands of primary school children.

Combating malnutrition is an ongoing struggle, especially in Africa. Due to poor economic conditions and food scarcity, malnutrition continues to take the lives of thousands of children in Mali each year. Although citizens have founded programs to improve child nutrition and the issue is on humanitarian aid organizations’ radars, it is clear that more effort is needed to eradicate the problem. With continued efforts, child malnutrition in Mali will begin to decline.

– Isabel Bysiewicz
Photo: Flickr

Post-Genocide Reconstruction in RwandaAfter the three-month-long genocide in 1994 that claimed the lives of approximately 800,000 predominantly Tutsi and moderate-Hutu citizens, Rwanda has been working to rebuild, reconstruct and promote lasting peace and stability.

Poverty in the post-genocide years is still a prevalent issue, even after 23 years of reconstruction in Rwanda. More than 60 percent of the population lives on less than $1.25 a day, and the nation failed to meet the U.N. Millennium Development Goal of halving the 1990 poverty rate by 2015. However, the current state of poverty must be considered in the context of the conflict and upheaval Rwanda has experienced and the progress it has made since its brutal setback.

Between 2000 and 2010, there was a 23.8 percent reduction in poverty. Rwanda has also become one of the fastest-growing economies in Central Africa. It had four straight years, between 2011 and 2014, of GDP growth at eight percent. These are all positive signs for Rwanda’s future.

Since the genocide and the preceding civil war, under the leadership of former-RPF leader Paul Kagame, the government, local NGOs and the international community have worked toward reconstruction in Rwanda.

On the federal level, economic reform has led to rapid and sustainable economic growth which has lifted many people out of poverty. Privatization and liberalization have been the core tenets of this economic growth. More specifically, it has been achieved by increasing opportunities for employment outside of the agricultural sector, increasing agricultural productivity and increasing entrepreneurship and small business ownership.

Women have been central to reconstruction in Rwanda. Women make up 57 percent of the adult working population and they produce nearly 70 percent of the country’s overall agricultural output. Women have also organized themselves into socio-professional associations, development associations and cooperative groups, thereby taking control of and exercising agency over the reconstruction process.

Outside of the economy, gender equality has still been a focus, especially in politics. Women make up 64 percent of the Rwandan parliament, which is three times the worldwide average of 22 percent.

Interpersonal social reconstruction has also been a necessity, since the conflict exploited ethnic divides and hatreds. On the federal level, Rwanda adopted a policy of de-ethnicization wherein they “erased” ethnicity, stating that there were no longer Hutu and Tutsis, only unified Rwandans. On the local level, communities implemented Gacaca community courts to relieve the judicial burden of the International Criminal Tribunal of Rwanda and foster accountability and reconciliation.

Local organizations and initiatives have had a crucial role to play in reform and reconstruction. These groups have worked on both the community empowerment and economic empowerment levels, as well as on many other fronts.

The Pro-Femmes Twese Hamwe’s Action Peace Campaign works to empower women to realize the need to live in peace, give them the tools to live together peacefully and organize “dialogue clubs” to address underlying tensions. Another initiative, TO THE MARKET, is an online sales platform where genocide survivors can sell homemade goods globally. This harnesses local entrepreneurship and economically empowers the artisans.

Regarding the government, Kagame’s leadership has been strong and authoritative. While this has allowed him to mandate many economic reforms, it has also squashed political dissidence and limited freedom of the press.

The needs of women continually need to be met. The Rwandan Genocide was the first time in which mass rape was recognized as a tool of genocide. The prevalence of rape during the conflict means that today there are thousands of survivors who need unique support from the government and from society.

Finally, Rwanda is still very dependent on foreign aid. Approximately 35 percent of its budget comes from foreign aid. The next step in reconstruction should be to increase independence and make sustainable economic advancements so Rwanda can support itself with less support from the international community.

– Olivia Bradley

Photo: Flickr

Women's empowerment in RwandaWomen’s empowerment in Rwanda is a challenge known to women all too well. Following the end of the Rwandan Genocide in the spring of 1994, the country’s new leadership introduced a series of inclusionary acts that aimed to re-establish the position of women in their strongly patriarchal society.

The approach, though indeed revolutionary, has all the hang-ups usually associated with Top-Down solutions for social change. Namely, the government’s new policy, which requires 1:3 proportion of women to men in parliament, has done little to alter the reign of patriarchy in the general consciousness of the male population. Though the achievements it can claim are remarkable in comparison to many of its neighbor states, the fact remains that the women of Rwanda have yet to realize full empowerment.

Those who can claim empowerment are, interestingly, most often survivors of the genocide. In these cases, the basis of their empowerment stems from what they have made of their shared experience since 1994, not so much from the government’s policy shifts.

A popular example of women’s empowerment in Rwanda is the Widows Associations which formed in response to the massive loss of men during the genocide. Acting, at first, as a support network for newly widowed women, these associations gradually morphed into collations of women who found themselves in new roles as Rwanda’s primary breadwinners.

After 20 years of action, these networks have transitioned from the promotion of women’s issues in the late 1990s to supporting the survivors of genocide. More specifically, the focus is on supporting nearly 500,000 women who were raped in 1994. There is a 76 percent prevalence of HIV in survivors of rape and a 25-30 percent occurrence of PTSD symptoms in the whole of Rwanda’s female population alive in 1994.

In schools, in the home and in less internationally visible arenas, women and girls continue to face the expectations of traditional patriarchy. Even those who have attained seats in parliament have been found, according to a 2014 NPR story, to experience adverse situations at home. This includes marital rape and abuse, as well as general gendered expectations for marital roles, such as women doing the cleaning, cooking, etc.

Ultimately, the challenge women’s empowerment in Rwanda faces is the permeation of social norms. It is only once this has occurred that women at all levels of society will be provided the social support necessary for universal empowerment to occur.

Katrina Schrag 

Photo: Flickr

Diseases in RwandaRwanda, a country located in Central-Eastern Africa, is a country that has experienced everything from colonialism to genocide. Currently, Rwanda continues to battle hidden enemies within its borders: various diseases that infect its population. With a population of more than 11 million, the occurrence of common communicable diseases in Rwanda is an urgent concern.

The top ten causes of death in Rwanda are lower respiratory infections, HIV, diarrheal diseases, congenital birth defects, cancer, preterm birth complications, encephalopathy, neonatal sepsis, protein energy malnutrition and road injuries. Of these causes of death, diseases make up at least a third of the list.

Respiratory Disease

Lower respiratory disease is an unexpected, but serious health concern in Rwanda. The elderly, specifically those over 80, are especially vulnerable to lower respiratory infections after a lifetime of exposure to factors that cause lower respiratory infections.

Air pollution and malnutrition are the leading contributors to respiratory infections. Interestingly, neither are factors which an individual can directly control. Individuals are vulnerable to lower respiratory infections throughout their life due to these environmental factors. Tobacco, alcohol and drug usage only account for about 10 percent of lower respiratory diseases.

Hepatitis B and C 

Other common diseases in Rwanda are Hepatitis (B and C). Hepatitis consists of the inflammation of the liver. Unfortunately, hepatitis shows limited symptoms, if any at all, making it difficult to diagnose. When symptoms do show, they may consist of yellowish skin and poor appetite. Hepatitis is classified as “acute” when it lasts fewer than six months, and “chronic” when it lasts longer.

Sometimes, hepatitis may be diagnosed as malaria, since malaria victims also experience yellowish skin. However, malaria’s other symptoms manifest more powerfully: the ill person will experience fever, fatigue, vomiting and headaches. In the worse cases of malaria, people experience seizures, comas and ultimately, death. In 2013, 900,000 people in Rwanda were diagnosed with malaria.

Typhoid

Typhoid is a disease that occurs as result of ingesting contaminated food or water. Typhoid brings reduced appetite, headaches, generalized aches and pains, fever and worse of all, diarrhea. Typhoid is predominantly caused by external factors such as the ingestion of contaminants.

HIV/AIDS

HIV/AIDS is another silent disease spreading through the population of Rwanda. HIV/AIDS is spread through drug needles or through sexual contact with infected people. Some symptoms of HIV/AIDS include swollen glands and flu-like symptoms. This disease is fast-spreading — one person is infected every 30 minutes. In 2013, 200,000 Rwandans were living with HIV/AIDS, with 4,500 dying the same year. Being infected with HIV/AIDS increases a person’s chance by 30 times of developing active tuberculosis.

Breast Cancer

In addition to these diseases, cancer—especially breast cancer—is common among Rwandans. Access to hospitals and medical treatment may be difficult in terms of finances and transport.

Poverty and susceptibility to communicable diseases are closely linked. Once a disease is contracted, the lack of medical care places those ill at great risk.

War and Poverty  

Diseases strike resource-poor communities, like those in Rwanda. Rwanda’s genocide in 1994 took a great toll on the communities: 800,000 Rwandans were killed in 3 months. During the genocide, systematic rape served to transmit HIV/AIDS to thousands. Rwandans who fled to refugee camps weren’t safe either. The lack of sanitation, food and water increased the spread of infectious diseases rapidly. Rwandans found themselves falling prey to malaria and tuberculosis.

Rwanda’s communities are still recovering from war and battling poverty. The poor find it difficult to access medical care when they are ill; communicable diseases then spread because they are left untreated. The cycle of poverty leaves many susceptible to treatable diseases.

Solutions 

However, hope is not lost: the Rwandan government and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are working to work towards preventing common diseases in Rwanda. The CDC is trying to develop more labs and clinics to help treat HIV/AIDS, including distributing blood safety devices to help prevent HIV/AIDS in the first place. For malaria, the CDC is taking a preventative approach, by distributing nets and insecticide. The CDC is also monitoring each case of malaria carefully.

Rwanda is also home to Congolese refugees. Due to the preventative healthcare approach the CDC is taking, it is screening Congolese refugees for infectious diseases and chronic conditions that may be contagious to residents of Rwanda.

The Rwandan government has been cooperative with new approaches in its medical treatment infrastructure. In July 2017, the government became one of the first African countries to implement the World Health Organization’s treatment strategy, heralding a focus on preventative medicine.

The CDC and the Rwandan government demonstrate that together, agencies and communities can slowly defeat the common diseases in Rwanda.

Smriti Krishnan
Photo: Flickr

Code for Good
By harnessing the power of technology, three young men in Rwanda have set out to empower other Rwandan youths. Ildephonse Mungwarakarama, Theogene Niyonsenga and Jerome Habimana launched the Code for Good program to teach Rwandan students, the skills they need for app development for free.

The three entrepreneurs began their partnership in 2014 when they launched House of Technology, a company that provides its clients with web-based solutions ranging from website design to internet portal management. Code for Good is their most recent initiative.

The Code for Good program is aimed at educating youth throughout Rwanda about app development, reaching college students and those that have already graduated from universities, as well as those still in high school and under the age of 18.

For those that may be unemployed after college, Mungwarakarama, Niyonsenga and Habimana hope to provide the opportunity to learn valuable skills and gain work experience. Regardless of age or schooling, the program prepares students to meet industry standards and to enter the workforce, all the while improving academic performance.

Training is completed within the community by volunteers who meet with students after they have registered to complete the program. Once students have completed their training, they are equipped with the skills needed to teach these same skills to others as well as to apply what they have learned to future projects.

This program could be especially impactful in a country where poverty is such a prevalent issue. Of Rwanda’s nearly 13 million people, 62 percent live in poverty. In recent years, there has been an indication of a positive trend away from poverty, as the Rwandan economy has grown rapidly and the poverty rate has dropped. Programs like Code for Good will help to continue this trend.

With organizations like Code for Good that are actively engaged in building Rwanda’s future, it seems as if much can be done to alleviate poverty in Rwanda. By capitalizing on the high-tech world, young Rwandans can enact powerful change within their country.

Jennifer Faulkner

Photo: Flickr

Help People in RwandaFor more than twenty years, Rwanda has been a country in the midst of healing from its devastating mass genocide of 1994, a horrific episode in which Rwanda’s government sponsored the murder of approximately 800,000 people, mainly minority Tutsis and moderate Hutus. Hutu civilians carried out the majority of the attacks.

With this in mind, it is hard to imagine how to help people in Rwanda. And yet, the country has made remarkable progress in the years following the genocide, though there is still lots of work to be done. Here are five solutions that address how to help people in Rwanda:

  1. Support education
    With two out of three Rwandan citizens under the age of 25, the country has turned its attention and its hopes to children still in school. Schools in Rwanda are making a clear effort to discourage divisive ethnic labels; rather than Hutu or Tutsi, students are taught to identify themselves and others as Rwandans, all working toward a greater unity. There are many ways to support this effort, such as sponsoring a student through Foundation Rwanda or supporting one of the many organizations — Rwanda Aid, Aid for Africa and the Rwanda Orphans Project, to name a few — whose goal it is to further education in Rwanda.
  2. Support and encourage skilled labor
    While more Rwandan children are in school than ever before, there is a 40 percent unemployment rate among young people, and not enough Rwandans have skills necessary for the labor market. Part of this is because, while school attendance is very good, the quality of the schooling still needs improvement. One way to help is to support USAID’s work in Rwanda. USAID has been part of an effort to better students’ schooling and chances of finding a good job. Since 2011, USAID has helped equip 20,000 students with skills necessary to be employed, and 60 percent of those students have since gained new or better employment.
  3. Buy Rwandan coffee and tea
    One of the main sources of income for Rwanda comes from its production of coffee and tea. Rwandan coffee, apart from benefiting its economy, is known for its delicately sweet, citrusy and delicious flavor, and Rwandan tea, whether green or black, is known for producing a bold, rich flavor.
  4. Support survivors of genocide, especially those living with HIV/AIDS
    The genocide in 1994 also came alongside a horrifically large number of rapes, which resulted in many people in Rwanda becoming infected with HIV and AIDS. These people, along with the many, many others suffering from the trauma of the genocide, were and continue to be in need of both physical and mental help. Thankfully, many organizations continue to help people in Rwanda heal, such as Rwanda Gift for Life and the SURF Survivors Fund.
  5. Visit Rwanda
    While being known in recent history mainly for its horrors, Rwanda is also home to breathtaking areas of natural beauty. Another one of Rwanda’s main sources of income is its tourist trade, as people from around the world come to see the country’s dense rainforests and the 1,000 mountain gorillas, some of the last surviving on Earth, that live within them.

This is just a brief exploration of how to help people in Rwanda move past a painful part of their history. While Rwandans are grateful for any help, it has also become increasingly important that Rwanda stand on its own two feet, with the knowledge in mind that it cannot survive on aid forever. In 2012, the Rwandan government launched a fund to attract investments into the country in the hopes of generating more internal revenue, and gave the fund a firmly hopeful name: Agaciro, which means “dignity.”

Audrey Palzkill

Causes of Poverty in Rwanda
Rwanda is working its way out of poverty, but what are the causes of poverty in Rwanda? The country was devastated in 1993 by a genocide that took the lives of more than 800,000 people in a population of 7.7 million. The war wreaked havoc on the country and contributed to the causes of poverty in Rwanda.

It is necessary to take a look at Rwanda from a historical perspective to understand the causes of poverty in Rwanda in the twenty-first century. The country was under German colonial rule beginning in the late nineteenth century, which disrupted a potentially prosperous path into the modern era. Rwanda faced partition in 1910. Loss of land to surrounding countries caused Rwanda to lose access to valuable natural resources. Belgium ruled Rwanda after World War I until its independence in 1962.

It was during this era that ethnic conflict developed between the Hutus and the Tutsis, the two largest tribes in Rwanda. The ethnic strife flared up throughout the 20th century. It all culminated in 1993 when the Hutus killed more than 800,000 people in 100 days.

The country was left devastated. Schools closed in 1993, and 75% of the teachers in Rwanda died in the conflict, fled the country or landed in jail on charges of genocide. The country’s infrastructure crumbled. A new government took control, but Rwanda was desperately poor, and all the above factors contributed to poverty in Rwanda.

Despite having few natural resources, Rwanda exceeded 8% economic growth for the past decade under the leadership of its president Paul Kagame, who took control in 1994. If re-elected for a third term, he will serve as president until 2024. Rwanda’s goal is to be a middle-income nation by 2020 by moving from an agricultural economy to a knowledge and service economy. Ninety percent of the country still works in agriculture, but Rwanda is today one of the leading tea producers in the world. The foreign currency derived from tea exports helps to build schools and infrastructure.

By the twentieth anniversary of the genocide, more than a million people were no longer in poverty, the percentage of children dying before they were five years old was half of what it was, and the number of children enrolled in school by seven years old was almost 100 percent. More than 90% of the country has health insurance, and tourism is now one of the leading sources of revenue.

There are numerous causes of poverty in Rwanda that date back more than 100 years. But there is cause for optimism in a country that can boast that it is one of the fastest-growing economies in Central Africa.

Jene Cates


Despite the difficulties of the past, including the tragedy of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, human rights in Rwanda have gained major positive momentum, with improvements in education, public health, and the economy.

Regarded as the “ultimate turnaround” country by corporate consultants and authors of “Rwanda Inc”, Andrea Redmond and Patricia Crisafulli, the recent successes of the nation have also been praised by Bill Clinton and the World Bank.

Former president of the World Bank Robert Zoellick deemed Rwanda one of the most promising countries in Africa, The World Bank website states, “Rwanda has achieved impressive development progress since the 1994 genocide and civil war. It is now consolidating gains in social development and accelerating growth while ensuring that they are broadly shared to mitigate risks to eroding the country’s hard-won political and social stability.”

Rwanda’s progress serves as an example of the benefits of investing in foreign aid, as the major improvements within the country have been made possible through aid which accounted for 20% of the country’s gross national income in 2011.

In terms of human rights in Rwanda, poverty rates within the country have dropped from 56.7% in 2005 to 39% in 2014. There has also been a significant increase in public health, as infant mortality has plummeted from 120 deaths per 1,000 live births to fewer than 40 currently. In 2012, deaths of under-fives had also fallen to 55 from the 230 per 1,000 live births in 1998.

The major successes in public health are due to the fact that, according to the World Bank, Rwanda has spent 24% of total government expenditure on health and, starting this year, 22% on education.

With a larger percentage of the total national budget focusing on increasing human rights in Rwanda through education, the country now holds the highest elementary school rate within Africa. The female enrollment rate stands at an empowering 98%, with their male counterparts standing close behind at 95%.

Human rights in Rwanda have also continued to develop for the women of the country. Post-genocide, the Rwandan government has placed a focus on prohibiting discrimination of any kind, banning ethnically-based political parties and prioritizing gender equality. While only 22% of parliamentarians worldwide are women, an astonishing 64% in Rwanda are parliamentarians. Women also make up more than 50% of the primary school teachers within the country.

Although Rwanda has seen major loss and civil unrest in the past, the country is moving forward in a dedication towards improving human rights, and, so far, has made tremendous strides.

Kendra Richardson

Photo: Flickr

Job-Training Programs in RwandaNew job-training programs in Rwanda are helping unemployed youth gain practical skills that allow them to find meaningful work. The Educational Development Center (EDC), a nonprofit founded by MIT researchers, recently announced its newest project, called “Huguka Dukore.” The five-year program offers job-skills training, provides internship opportunities and helps with job placement to 40,000 Rwandan youth.

For these young men and women, having skills that give them access to the job market is essential. In Rwanda, men and women under the age of 30 make up 60 percent of the country’s population. Many of them live on less than $1.75 a day, and the vast majority of them will never attend college. Additionally, those who go to work right out of high school find the job search extremely difficult.

USAID gave $20.5 million in funding for Huguka Dukore, which means “Get trained, let’s work” in Rwanda’s most widely-spoken language, Kinyarwanda. More than 200 government and business leaders support the initiative, hoping these new jobs will contribute to Rwanda’s growing economy.

Huguka Dukore follows on the heels of another EDC project in Rwanda, the Akazi Kanoze Youth Livelihoods Project, which has trained 21,000 Rwandan youth since its launch in 2009. Graduates became entrepreneurs, worked as certified caregivers for children or worked for a Rwandan company. Consequently, over half found employment within six months of completing their training.

Not all job-training programs in Rwanda are strictly technical; some have a creative side. For example, the nonprofit Indego Africa runs a vocational training program that teaches Rwandan women artisanal work. Started in February of 2016, the program is split into two main focuses: artisanal training and business instruction.

For three days a week over the course of six months, the class of 45 women learns sweetgrass basket weaving, banana-leaf weaving, beading and sewing. They craft hats, bags, baskets and stuffed animals designed by a team in New York City and sell them online. On the other two days, the women go to Kigali, the capital, to learn computer skills, bookkeeping and budgeting. Consequently, taining young women allows the artisan collectives to continue to grow, even as the founding members age.

This new focus on job-training programs in Rwanda is part of Rwanda’s Vision 2020, as outlined by the UNDP. The country aims to shift dependence away from farming, a traditionally low-income lifestyle. They plan on creating 2.2 million jobs in industry and services. Consequently, Rwanda is making sure that its youngest population of adults receives preparation to work in the business sector.

Emilia Otte

Photo: Flickr


After the 1994 Rwandan genocide against the Tutsi that killed 800,000 people, Rwanda has developed as a nation, improving its economy and decreasing its poverty rates. Rwanda Vision 2020 seeks to bolster Rwanda’s economic success by investing in a knowledge-based society.

World Economic Forum calls Rwanda “one of the fastest growing economies in Central Africa.” The country increased its GDP growth to eight percent per year between 2001 and 2014. However, more than 60 percent of the population still lives on less than $1.25 a day.

Foreign assistance continues to expand Rwanda’s economy by investing in programs such as education, youth workforce development and the coffee sector. Rwanda benefited from foreign assistance since the genocide, with 30 to 40 percent of the nation’s budget coming from aid. The Rwandan government’s initiative, Rwanda Vision 2020, focuses on long-term goals to grow from an agricultural and subsistence economy to a diversified economy less dependent on foreign aid.

Struck by economic disadvantages, including high unemployment and fluctuating prices in coffee and tea exports, Rwanda hopes to transform into a middle-income country and knowledge-based society.

Rwanda Vision 2020 promotes macroeconomic stability and wealth creation to reduce dependency on aid and develop the private sector. The initiative will expand Rwanda’s domestic resource base and increase its exports and promote diversification in non-traditional exports.

Rwanda recognizes that it must improve education and health standards to provide an efficient and productive workforce. Entrepreneurship is crucial to Rwanda’s economic success. Instigating wealth, employment and educational services in sciences and technology will create a new class of entrepreneurs.

USAID partners with the Rwanda Education Board to enhance investments in training, teaching and materials to ensure that all children learn to read within their first years of schooling.

While Rwandan youth are challenged by poverty and social instability, they increase their chances for success through USAID’s programs for basic life skills and work training, which promote education and employment. As a result, over 20,000 youth are equipped with workforce skills, and over 60 percent of these youth gained new or better employment, including self-employment. More than 40 percent of the youth choose to pursue further schooling.

With a history of poverty, Rwanda’s economic success comes from embracing present challenges and adjusting its approach. Rwanda’s changing landscape promotes socio-economic stability and harnesses a new identity as it becomes a middle-income nation and knowledge-based society.

Sarah Dunlap

Photo: Flickr