Situated in Eastern Africa, the Republic of Rwanda is home to over 12 million people. It is a very small country and the most densely populated in Africa. Its history is marked by large-scale ethnic violence between the Hutu majority and dominant Tutsi minority.
The country has come a long way since then, but in many ways it is still striving to rebuild. The government has introduced some measures to reduce poverty, widen the range of economic activities and develop the country’s infrastructure. However, poverty still persists and many Rwandans lack access to proper housing, safe drinking water and sanitation. Furthermore, the HIV/AIDS epidemic still poses a challenge.
SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children and young people without parental care, or at risk of losing it, in Rwanda since 1978.
While the Rwandan government has made the fight against infectious diseases a national priority, HIV/AIDS remains one of the country’s major public health concerns. Around 230 000 people, 14 000 of those children, are affected. Many children are at risk of losing their parents to HIV/AIDS, others already have and must now fend for themselves. Furthermore, malnutrition is a health crisis in Rwanda that is particularly dangerous for children. A lack of enough nutritious food affects growth and can have long-term negative effects on development.
Rwanda is one of the best-performing countries in education. Around 98% of children officially attend primary school. Nevertheless, several challenges in education remain. Although nearly every child enrolls in primary school, only 3 in 10 children will complete their primary education. Girls are even more likely to drop out of school, as they are expected to help in the household. Furthermore, classrooms are often too crowded and the quality of education is still relatively low.
Poverty in Rwanda has dropped significantly over the past years, but around 39% of people continue to be poor. Poverty is particularly high in rural areas. Most people live off farming here, but many families struggle to produce enough crops to live off of. Thousands of Rwandans do not have access to proper housing, safe drinking water or proper sanitations, such as toilets. This is particularly dangerous for children, as they are at hightened risk of water-borne diseases.