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Sida's work in Rwanda

Despite the economic progress of recent years, nearly half of Rwanda’s population lives in poverty. Sida’s cooperation with the country aims to strengthen democracy and respect for human rights, promote sustainable development and contribute to increased employment.

Sida’s support to Rwanda 2020

Progress has been made

61 %

of the parliamentarians in the Lower Houser are women, and 38 percent in the Upper House are women. This makes the Parliament of Rwanda the parliament with the highest proportion of women of any country in the world.

Rapid economic growth

Rwanda is characterised by strong development, with rapid economic growth and a relatively low level of corruption.

Declining child mortality

Although child mortality remains high, it has declined in recent years. In this area, Rwanda’s numbers are below the average for Sub-Saharan Africa.

Challenges remain

Violence against women

Despite women’s high political representation in the country, the respect for women’s human rights is still limited. For example, many are subjected to gender-based violence.

Widespread poverty

Poverty remains widespread in Rwanda, and in 2019 the country was ranked 157th in the UN Human Development Index.

Limited of freedom of speech

Although democratic progress has been made in certain areas, numerous challenges remain – among them the limitation of freedom of association and freedom of speech. Whomever challenges the current government in Rwanda is exposed to risk.

Development cooperation in Rwanda

Even before the 1994 genocide, landlocked and densely populated Rwanda was one of the world’s least developed countries. Present-day Rwanda is characterised by growing cities and rapid economic development, but poverty reduction has slowed in recent years. This is a sign that the country’s growth is not benefiting the entire population. One in four Rwandans still lacks access to clean water.

Democracy and gender equality

Rwanda still bears the scars of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsis. The government frequently responds to criticism alleging a lack of respect for human rights by pointing to the genocide and the importance of national unity to ensure that nothing like it ever happens again. 

According to the Constitution of Rwanda, women have the same rights as men. The high proportion of women in Rwanda’s parliament contributes to the country’s ranking in the top tier of the world’s most equal countries in numerous surveys. Yet other surveys indicate strong patriarchal structures and show that there is still much to be done in the area of gender equality. Despite certain improvements in sexual and reproductive health and rights, nearly half of all pregnancies are unwanted. Teenage pregnancies are on the rise, and abortion is criminalised.  

Prevention of violence against women

Many Rwandan women are subjected to gender-based violence and the respect of women’s human rights is lacking. Sida supports Kvinna till Kvinna and their Rwandan partner organisations in the efforts to prevent violence against women and strengthen women’s political and economic position.

Stronger civil society

Rwandan civil society has a difficulty expressing social critique, generating public opinion and challenging the government. Through support for a special fund for civil society, Sida contributes to strengthening organisations that work to promote human rights and gender equality at both local and national level.

About PPIMA at the Rwanda civil society platform website

Environment and climate

Effective management of land rights is a prerequisite for the sustainable use of natural resources and urban development, but also for the conservation of natural areas. Land ownership and use rights are thus an important part of social development, and are linked to socially, economically and environmentally sustainable development.

Better management of land rights

There is a lacking knowledge about land rights and how they should be managed among government agencies. The Swedish authority Lantmäteriet supports its Rwandan counterpart, the Rwanda Land Use Management Authority, with training and advice. The work also includes training activities at the local level aimed at informing citizens about rules and rights related to land.

The Rwanda Land Use Management Authority website

Environmentally sustainable development

Rwanda’s environmental organisations have limited opportunities to influence the country’s decision-makers. With help from Sida, the Fonerwa environment and climate fund supports projects conducted by organisations, authorities and companies working to promote environmentally sustainable development.

Fonerwa website

Economic development

The economic growth in Rwanda is strong. The previously dominant agricultural sector is gradually being replaced by a growing services sector. However, the majority of the country’s inhabitants are excluded from the formal labour market and make a living from small-scale agriculture.

Increased income for women and young people

A large portion of the population is underemployed, and there is a great need to increase the number of jobs and raise income, especially for women and young people. The Creating Off-Farm Rural Enterprises project is being implemented in two of the poorest districts in the country, and has significantly increased the income for women and young people.

The Creating Off-farm Rural Enterprise website

Financial services for poor households

In Rwanda, there are major restrictions when it comes to managing, saving and investing money. Sida supports Access to Finance Rwanda, the primary objective of which is to stimulate the development of the Rwandan financial sector and contribute to increased access to financial services among poor households, women, young people and refugees.

The Access to Finance Rwanda website

Research cooperation

Education and research play an important role in Rwanda’s development strategy. During 2015–2021, Sida is supporting a research collaboration between 14 Swedish higher education institutions and six regional universities in Rwanda. 

Education of master and PhD students

The need for higher education is great, and in a research cooperation with the state-run University of Rwanda, Sida is contributing to the development of the university’s research environment and the education of master and PhD students in areas such as environment and climate, innovation, health, peace and conflict, and sustainable economic development.

About the cooperation at the University of Rwandas website

Updated: 1 July 2021