General information on Rwanda

Rwanda is still recovering from the mass killings that deeply shattered the African nation in 1994. Over recent years, many human development figures, including the infant mortality rate, have noticeably improved. However, a number of challenges still remain. SOS Children’s Villages helps families stay together so that Rwandan children and young adults can grow up in a safe, family environment.

Having lunch - photo: F. Einkemmer
SOS Children’s Villages teaches young people ICT skills (photo: SOS archives)
Situated in Eastern Africa, the Republic of Rwanda is home to around 11.3 million people. The capital, Kigali, is the largest city – it currently has one million inhabitants but is growing rapidly as people move to the city in search of a better life. 

Ethnic tensions between the Hutu majority and the small, dominant Tutsi minority have marked the country’s history. These tensions culminated in 1994 in what is considered to be one of the world`s worse genocide in modern times. In many ways the country 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.

Poverty has dropped significantly over the past years but over 39 per cent of people continue to live in poverty. Thousands of Rwandans do not have access to proper housing, safe drinking water and proper sanitations. Poverty is particularly high in rural areas. Most people live off farming, but many families struggle to produce enough crops to live off.  
SOS Children’s Villages runs kindergartens and schools throughout Rwanda (photo: SOS archives)

An estimated 590,000 children are growing up without their parents, and many more are at risk of losing parental care.

Rwanda’s under-5 mortality rate remains high at 50 per 1,000 live births. Most deaths are preventable: malaria, chronic undernourishment, diarrhoea or pneumonia are the main illnesses that children die from. In addition, around 27,000 children are living with HIV/AIDS.

The majority of children start primary school, but only a few finish school. Although parents do not have to pay fees, the additional costs of school materials and uniforms mean that many children drop out. Around 29 per cent of Rwandan children are forced to work in order to contribute to the family income.

 

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