Sida's work in Rwanda
Sida's development cooperation in Rwanda aims to strengthen democracy and the environment, promote respect for human rights and help increase employment. Despite economic progress in recent years, nearly four in ten Rwandans live in poverty.
Sida’s support in Rwanda
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Important thematic areas in Rwanda
Progress has been made
of parliamentarians are women, making Rwanda the country with the highest proportion of women in parliament in the world.1
Rwanda is characterised by strong economic development with rapid growth and relatively low levels of corruption.2
More people have access to electricity
Nearly 65 percent of the country’s population will have access to electricity by 2021. Over 60 percent is renewable.3
Despite women’s high political representation, gender equality in society is lagging behind. Patriarchal structures and traditional social norms mean that more work is needed to increase gender equality.4
Poverty in Rwanda remains widespread and the country ranks low on the UN Human Development Index.5
Limited freedom of expression
Democratic progress has been made but freedom of organisation and expression remains limited. Civil society organisations and the media face major challenges.
Development cooperation in Rwanda
Before the genocide against the Tutsi, Rwanda was one of the world’s least developed countries. Today, Rwanda has growing cities and rapid economic development. However, the growing economy is not creating enough jobs and poverty is not declining at the same rate as before. Nearly one in four people live in poverty and just as many lack access to clean water.6
Rwanda’s population and society are still affected by the genocide, with trauma and underlying tensions.
Democracy and gender equality
The space for civil society is limited and the media is vulnerable to expressing itself freely. Despite gradual improvements, journalists risk prosecution and imprisonment if they raise issues critical to society, such as disrespect for human rights or gender equality. The government often rejects criticism, citing the genocide and the importance of national unity.
Rwanda has one of the world’s most equal parliaments with relatively progressive legislation, but patriarchal structures lead to a lack of rights. Gender-based violence is common.
Despite some improvements in sexual and reproductive health and rights, access to contraception is limited. Teenage pregnancies are high.7 Abortions are not free but are permitted in cases such as rape or where there is a risk to a woman’s health.8
Contributing to peace and reconciliation
Despite significant progress in reconciliation efforts – delivering justice and dealing with the genocide – many people are living with significant trauma that risks being passed on to the next generation. Sida works with Aegis Trust, Interpeace and Never Again Rwanda. They support peace and values education in schools, inter-group dialogue and trauma treatment to heal psychological wounds and prevent future tensions between people.
Preventing violence against women
Lack of rights and gender-based violence affect the country’s women severely. Sida supports Kvinna till Kvinna and its Rwandan partner organisations in their efforts to prevent violence against women and to strengthen women’s political and economic position.
About Kvinna till Kvinna’s work in Rwanda on the organisation’s website (in Swedish)
Strengthening civil society
Rwandan civil society finds it difficult to pursue socially critical issues. Through its support for the Public Policy and Information, Monitoring and Advocacy (PPIMA) programme, Sida is helping to strengthen civil society organisations that work for human rights and gender equality, among other things.
Developing Rwanda's media sector
The media sector is not functioning well due to obstacles such as legislation and lack of funding. Sida is working with the Swedish Media Institute Fojo and Swedish Radio’s Media Development Office to develop the media sector in Rwanda, together with the local organisations PAX PRESS and RBA. The project develops media sustainability and professionalisation in line with core international journalistic values. Training of journalists is included. The work targets a wide range of media houses and journalists.
Environment and climate
Rwanda is highly vulnerable to global climate change. Extreme weather events have increased and flooding, land degradation and crop destruction are common. Single-crop monoculture agriculture is spreading, causing deforestation, soil depletion and biodiversity loss. This in turn affects people’s livelihoods. Access to electricity and clean cooking methods is limited in rural areas. Although Rwanda has great ambitions to contribute to a green transition, implementation is slow.
Improving land management
Managing land registers and ensuring that land use is planned fairly is a challenge. The Swedish National Land Survey is supporting its Rwandan counterpart, the Rwanda Land Management and Use Authority, with training and advice. The work also includes educational activities to inform citizens about rules and rights related to land. In 2021, activities were adapted to the pandemic, for example, information on land issues and women’s right to own land was disseminated via radio rather than through on-site trainings.
Working together for environmentally sustainable development
Rwanda’s environmental organisations are constrained by a lack of funding. Sida works with the FONERWA Environment and Climate Fund, which supports projects for environmentally sustainable development. The work is carried out by organisations, authorities and companies. Projects include climate-smart vegetable production, cleaner cooking methods, and introducing electric motorcycle taxis in the capital Kigali.
Guarantees boost electricity production
The Rwandan government has a goal of universal access to electricity by 2030, but progress is slow. Sida is supporting development through loan guarantees in partnership with the Rwandan National Development Bank (BRD) and the World Bank. The aim is to increase lending for renewable energy and independent power generation. The loan guarantees are issued both directly to PV companies and to financial institutions that lend to individuals or SMEs. The guarantees are managed by Sida’s Power Africa team.
Rwanda has enjoyed strong economic growth, but it has not created enough jobs. Many people have too low an income to survive on and society is vulnerable.9
The previously dominant agricultural sector is gradually being replaced by a growing service sector. However, the majority of the country’s population still relies on small-scale agriculture for their livelihoods and is outside the formal labour market, lacking security.
Poor households gain access to financial services
Households and businesses are often unable to borrow, invest and save. Sida supports Access to Finance Rwanda (AFR), which stimulates the development of the Rwandan financial sector and helps poor households, women, young people, refugees and businesses to gain greater access to financial services. Among other things, it has helped more than 2.5 million people gain access to financial services.
Empowering women economically and reducing domestic conflict
Sida supports International Alert in cooperation with the Swedish Embassy in Kinshasa. Through dialogue groups, among other things, women are empowered to take control of their finances and reduce conflicts in the household. This has led to more constructive discussion in many families and to women being more involved in making decisions about the household economy.
Research and higher education is a priority area in the country’s own development strategy. At the same time, much work remains to be done and the need for higher education and research is great.
Research cooperation between Swedish and Rwandan universities
Through Sida’s research cooperation with Rwanda, 14 Swedish higher education institutions are working with six regional universities in Africa. The cooperation includes research on peace and conflict, environment and climate, sustainable economic development, health and innovation.
Improved postgraduate education
The need for higher education is great. In a cooperation with the State University of Rwanda, Sida is helping to develop the university’s ability to conduct research and train students at master’s and doctoral level in areas such as environment and climate, innovation, health, peace and conflict research and sustainable economic development.
Governance of Sida's development cooperation with Rwanda
Strategy for Sweden’s development cooperation with Rwanda 2020 – 2024 is currently only available in Swedish
Sources on this page
- Percentage of women in parliament on the Government of Rwanda’s website
- Perceived corruption in Rwanda on Transparency International’s website
- Access to electricity on the Government of Rwanda’s website
- Gender equality Rwanda on the Borgen Projects’ website
- Rwanda in the UNDP Human Development Index
- Access to basic water services in Rwanda on the World Bank’s website
- Teenage pregnancies Rwanda on the Government of Rwanda’s website
- Abortion legislation Rwanda on Ipa’s website
- Poverty in Rwanda on the World Bank’s website
Updated: October 4, 2022