6 Eradicate extreme hunger and poverty

Where we are

Households headed by the very young, the elderly, women and people living with disabilities are generally though to be more vunerable to poverty (Photo: UNDP-RWANDA).

There has been a significant decrease in the proportion of the population living in poverty since 2000 and most noticeably since 2005/6.  Between 2000/1 and 2005/6 there was a decline of 2.2 percentage points in poverty but between 2005/6 and 2010/11 this accelerated to a decline of 11.8 percentage points. The decline in poverty over the 10 year period was 23.8 per cent. 2.7 per cent between 2000/1 and 2005/6 and 20.8 per cent between 2005/6 and 2010.11. Despite the remarkable progress Rwanda remains of track for halving the 1990 poverty rate by 2015. The challenge that Rwanda faces in doing so is evidenced by the fact that the 2010/11 poverty figure is only 2.5 percentage points lower than the 1990 poverty rate.  There would have to be an even faster rate of decline between 2010/11 and 2015 than occurred between 2005/6 and 2010/11 to achieve the 2015 Target, 25.8 per cent. Nevertheless the analysis of the EICV 3 data shows that provided that the economy continues to grow and inequalities do not increase the prospects for future poverty reduction are good (NISR 2012b).

The decline in poverty seems to be accounted for by three main things: an increase in non-farm employment, the type of employment which is most likely to pay a non-poverty wage, an increase in farm productivity and an increase in the number of livelihood activities an individual engages in including running small businesses. However, there has been some reduction in poverty more or less across the board as well as a decline in the proportion of dependent family workers (EICV 3, NISR 2012a).

The poverty reduction since 2005/6 has been pro-poor with the majority of the Rwandan population have benefitted from economic growth. This is shown by the decline in inequalities since 2005/6 compared with the growth between 2000/1 and 2005/6 decline in inequalities. The Gini coefficient, a measure of inequalities increased between 2000/1 and 2005/6 from 0.507 to 0.522 and then fell to 0.490 in 2010/11. The ratio of the 90th to the 10th percentile also fell between 2005/6 and 2010/11 from 7.1 to 6.4. This is in contrast to the period from 2000/1 to 2005/6 when the better off benefitted more than the poor and the Gini Coefficient increased.

Not only has there been a decree in the proportion of the population living in poverty but despite high population growth there has been a decline in the actual numbers of people living in poverty. Figure 6 shows that the number of people living in poverty in 2010 was lower than the number in 2005/6 although still higher than for 2000/1. However, the number living in extreme poverty was actually lower in 2010/11 than it was in 2000/1. This demonstrates the real progress that Rwanda is making in reducing poverty and improving the lives of the population.

As well as considering the decline in levels of poverty it is also important to consider how poor people are, the depth of poverty i.e. the proportion by which poor households fall below the poverty line. Although the depth of poverty has fallen since 2000/1 it remains high. The depth of extreme poverty is lower but still noticeable. Many poor Rwandans live at levels far below the poverty line.

However, levels of poverty vary across the country with the wealthiest districts being in the City of Kigali and near the boarders in the North East and North West of the country. There are no very poor districts in Eastern Province while there are wealthier and poor districts in Northern Province. The greatest concentrations of poverty are in the South and West. Urban areas tend to be less poor and remote rural areas the poorest (NISR 2012b).

Population below the National Poverty Line 1990 – 2010/11

Line Chart
Targets for MDG1
  1. Reduce by half the proportion of people living on less than a dollar a day
    • Proportion of population below $1 (PPP) per day
    • Poverty gap ratio
    • Share of poorest quintile in national consumption
  2. Achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all, including women and young people
    • Growth rate of GDP per person employed
    • Employment-to-population ratio
    • Proportion of employed people living below $1 (PPP) per day
    • Proportion of own-account and contributing family workers in total employment
  3. Reduce by half the proportion of people who suffer from hunger
    • Prevalence of underweight children under-five years of age
    • Proportion of population below minimum level of dietary energy consumption