Twenty years on: a transformed Rwanda

07 Apr 2014

Twenty years ago, nearly a million women, men and children were killed over the course of 100 days during the Rwandan genocide.

Rwanda is now a thriving nation. In 2000, the government introduced its Vision 2020, which seeks to transform the country from a low-income agriculture-based economy to a knowledge-based, service economy by 2020.

Between 2001 and 2012, the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by an average of 8 percent per year.

Rwanda has made impressive progress in the area of human development. Poverty rates have plummeted by nearly 12 percent, raising a million children, men and women out of poverty since 2008.

The country has also moved towards gender parity in education and improved child and maternal health. For instance, the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) on infant mortality has already been achieved.

Around 91 percent of all Rwandans have access to HIV testing and treatment.
Thanks to the introduction of gender quotas, the nation also boasts the highest proportion of women in parliament, at 64 percent.

Under the Delivering as One Agenda, the United Nations has been in a strong position to support the country’s long-term vision for achieving stability and development.

The UN has helped to accelerate the democratization of Rwanda through the creation of responsive governance institutions, including political parties, media and the justice sector. The organization has also supported national reconciliation efforts and established a programme to help tens of thousands of Rwandan refugees to come home.

In addition, the UN has been helping Rwanda to reduce its levels of poverty. Efforts have been made to accelerate shared growth, create decent employment, boost exports and reduce poverty levels. For instance, UN-supported investments in the agricultural sector have led to considerable increases in production, while capacity-building spurred the creation of a bold, nationwide social protection scheme.

Rwanda now manages its aid effectively, chairing a national forum for aid coordination that has been holding all partners accountable for the investments made, through performance and effectiveness indicators.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has been helping to stabilize Rwanda, build the capacities of the Government and help communities to create sustainable opportunities for the future.

For instance, UNDP’s support to the Gacaca court, a system of community justice created after the genocide, led to the scheme’s successful closure after handling more than 1.2 million cases. The organization has also been training judges to domesticate human rights laws and police personnel to fight Sexual and Gender-Based Violence.

UNDP has helped Rwanda to create and implement a Green Growth and Climate Change Resilience Strategy, resulting in more efficient water management, protection of large swathes of land and rivers and the creation of jobs in environmentally-friendly sectors. By the same token, with UNDP support, Rwanda now has its own text-based early warning system to help minimize disaster risk.

Economic diversification, job creation and the empowerment of young women and men continues to be a top priority for UNDP in Rwanda. The organization is now supporting a range of youth organizations to create forums through which businesses are created and innovations strongly promoted.