Rwanda today – a story of reconciliation and nation building
The Genocide against the Tutsi took the lives of more than one million people. It also left Rwanda the poorest country on earth. Its social, political and economic structures were destroyed.
Rwandans were deeply traumatised by the horrors they witnessed in 1994. Twenty years later, Rwanda has forged a new path of citizen-centred development.
The individual and collective aspirations of Rwandans have been raised, improving quality of life and bringing hope for a brighter future.
Rwanda has a democratic system of government and the highest percentage of women in parliament in the world (64 per cent). Transparency International ranks Rwanda the least corrupt country in the region, and rating agency Fitch says the country has “rapid and inclusive growth driven by credible economic policy”.
One million Rwandans grew out of poverty between 2006 and 2011. Life expectancy has risen by ten years in the past decade, and 81 per cent of the population now has health insurance. Child mortality rates have fallen by more than 50 per cent – the fastest decline on record — and deaths from malaria are down 85 per cent.
At the same time Rwanda’s population has boomed – partly from the 3.5 million people who have returned since 1994. Today 10.5 million Rwandans call the country home.
Rwanda now grows and exports some of the world’s finest tea and coffee. Its tourism industry is also thriving.
The policies of the government are key to these achievements. After the genocide, the government looked to the best of Rwanda’s rich cultural traditions and shared values. They used these to create something new – a vision of reconciliation, improved living conditions and empowered communities. You can learn more about these programs at Rwandapedia.
Rwanda still relies on donor support, but dependence on development aid has fallen to about 40 per cent of the national budget. This is down from 90 percent in 1995. The focus now is on wiping out poverty through growth, entrepreneurship and education. The country has a vision of self-reliance for long-term social and economic renewal.
President Paul Kagame sees stability and development as being deeply linked. “You won’t find it written anywhere that Rwanda – or Africa – is meant to remain poor. The struggle to move from poverty to development is about bringing out the best that we are, and that we can be. And it is within us; within our children…”
After the worst brutality of which humankind is capable, Rwanda has been brought back to life by the strength, courage and hard work of its people.