The Situation of Children in Rwanda
Located in the heart of the Great Lakes Region in Central Africa, Rwanda has largely been regarded as one of Africa’s success stories. The country has made remarkable progress since the 1994 genocide, particularly in promoting good governance and delivering essential services such as health and education. Rwanda’s development ambition is guided by its home grown Vision 2020 which aims to transform its agricultural based economy into a knowledge-based hub for business and information technology by 2020, with a projected annual increase of the country’s economy to 11.5%.
According to the 2012 Census, almost 50% of the total population are children under 18 years and 15% are under 5 years. Rwanda’s population is still largely rural with 86% of children living in rural areas.
The year 2015 presented a good opportunity to reflect upon achievements under the MDGs, and Rwanda is one of few countries who has met all of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), however some few critical targets within the goals were not met (stunting and poverty targets). Rwanda has seen a dramatic decrease in under five mortality rates, from 152 (per 1,000 live births) in 2005 to 50 in 2014/15.
The fertility rate has reduced from 6.3 in 2005 to 4.2 in 2014/15. While stunting rates are gradually decreasing, they remain stubbornly high at 37.9% (48.6% for children in the poorest quintile), hence the MDG target of reducing the percentage of stunted children (under five) to 24.5% was not met.
The latest living standards survey (EICV4, 20143/14) demonstrates that economic inequalities have reduced; the gini coefficient dropped from 0.51 (2000/1) to 0.45 (2013/14).
Although primary school attendance rates have increased steadily in the last decade, the quality of education remains a challenge. There have been steady increases in secondary school enrolment (41% gross enrolment in 2013/14). The census demonstrated that pre-school attendance is more common in urban areas (44%) than in rural areas (28%).
Significant work remains to be done in terms of protection issues: according to the 2010 DHS, 41.2% of women aged 15-49 have experienced violence since the age of 15; 22% of these were classified as sexual violence.
Going forward towards the new Sustainable Development Goals, the Government of Rwanda has emphasized the unfinished business of the MDGs. Job creation and diversification of the economy is high on the agenda, as well as joint action on eliminating malnutrition, including how to link nutrition interventions with social protection programmes. Social protection programmes in general will receive increased attention to reach the EDPRS objective of increasing graduation out of poverty.