Rwanda at a glance

Key socio-economic indicators

Political and economic context

Situation of Children

UNICEF Country Programme

Key achievements


Rwanda at a glance

UNICEF Rwanda/2016
© UNICEF Rwanda/2016

Capital: Kigali
Head of State and Government: President Paul Kagame, since 22 April 2000
Official Languages: Kinyarwanda / English / French / Swahili
Head of Government: R t. Honourable Edouard Ngirente, Prime Minister since 30 August 2017
Population (millions): 11.9 (NISR estimate)
Permanent Secretary to the UN: Amb. Valentine Rugwabiza, since October 2016

Rwanda is a small landlocked country in East Africa. It is bordered by the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to the west, Tanzania to the east, Uganda to the north, and Burundi to the south. The population is rural and young; approximately 43% are under age 15.

Rwanda has made significant progress towards economic prosperity and human development over the past two decades. Rwanda has one of the fastest growing economies in central Africa, and was one of the few countries to achieve all the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Political stability, strong governance, fiscal and administrative decentralization, and zero tolerance for corruption are among the key factors supporting the country’s inclusive growth and development.

Rwanda still faces some significant development challenges. Chronic malnutrition (stunting), early childhood development, neonatal mortality, the quality of education, and prevention of violence against children require continued attention. 

Poverty remains widespread in Rwanda; 39 per cent of the population live below the poverty line and 16 per cent live in extreme poverty. Children are disproportionally affected by poverty (44 per cent) and experience multiple overlapping deprivations of basic needs, compounding its impact. Despite steady economic growth, inflation is rising and development assistance for social sectors is declining, while national revenues, though growing, are insufficient to address the demands of social and economic sector growth.

UNICEF began its development work in Rwanda in 1986. After the 1994 genocide, UNICEF’s assistance focused on emergency, recovery, and small-scale projects. In 2007, when the Rwanda Aid Policy as passed, and in 2008, with the beginning of the UN Delivering as One reform, UNICEF’s work as part of the One UN programme shifted to larger scale projects and national policy support to the Government key programme areas.

The new 2018-2023 Country Programme will continue to support the realisation of the rights of every child, especially the most disadvantaged. Guided by the SDG principle ‘leaving no one behind’, the programme will contribute to five priorities under the social transformation pillar of the Government’s National Strategy for Transformation 2017-2024: 

  1. ensuring access to quality health for all;
  2. reducing malnutrition; 
  3. increasing access to and improving the quality of education; (iv) moving towards a modern Rwandan household; and 
  4. enhancing graduation from poverty and promoting resilience.





UNICEF in Rwanda: Country Profile 2018

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