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WFP is handing over school-feeding to Rwanda's government, for a full phase-out by 2012. Photo: WFP/Riccardo Gangale
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Summary Title: 
WFP Provides hope for 54,000 Congolese refugees in Rwanda
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WFP provides hope for life to any single refugee among 54000 Congolese refugees hosted in Rwanda over ten year due to continuous political unrest in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. These refugees include women and children and they entirely depend on food aid provided by WFP on a monthly basis.  “If we did not get food from WFP, we would have died of hunger and starvation in refugee camps, we couldn’t have survived in refugee camps here in Rwanda without food assistance from WFP” said Collette Nyiramana, a 49 years old mother in Gihembe refugee camp located in Gicumbi district Northern Province of Rwanda, reflecting on the hard times they live in refugee camps.

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Nyiramana Collete in Gihembe refugee camp during general food distribution. Copyright: WFP/John Paul Sesonga

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Rwanda has made remarkable economic progress since the 1994 genocide. Per capita incomes rose from US$140 in 1994 to US$343 in 2007.  Rwanda’s macroeconomic performance has been good in recent years, despite major constrains. Between 2001 -2008, growth averaged 6.8 percent annually. However, food insecurity remains a significant threat in Rwanda, which is a low-income, food-deficit and least-developed country, ranked 167 of 182 countries in the 2009 UNDP Human Development Report.

High population density and growth have led to deforestation, soil erosion, landscape and decreased agricultural productivity. At least 22 percent of households (2.2 million people) are food-insecure, and another 24 percent are highly vulnerable to food insecurity. Food utilization is also a problem, as reflected in high levels of maternal and child malnutrition in many parts of the country. Over 50 percent of children are chronically malnourished, while one child in four is underweight.

The Government of Rwanda, through the Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS) for 2008-2012, gives high priority to the creation of improved safety nets for the poorest and the most vulnerable people. The Government plans to launch a national school meal programme, which links directly to the Education Sector Strategy (ESSP). In the recent finalized retreat, food security and nutrition are among the twelve priorities identified by the government for 2010.

Rwanda is one of eight pilot countries for the One UN “Delivering as One” initiative. The ONE UN programme focuses on five strategic thematic areas: governance; health, HIV and population; education; environment and sustainable growth and social protection.


WFP Activities

WFP is working to connect farmers in Rwanda to markets through the Purchase for Progress initiative. Learn more

In 2010, WFP is targeting around 540,000 people for food assistance across Rwanda.  Last year, WFP reached 535,000 people with food supplies.

In 2009, WFP provides food assistance to 58,000 refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as 10,000 Rwandan refugees returning home.  Food-for-work projects for badly affected communities also help to create vital assets such as terraced land, dams, new tree plantations and improved roads and housing.

WFP also supported 6,000 malnourished pregnant and lactating women for six month before and after delivery under MCHN programme and 17,000 malnourished children under 5 years through a supplementary feeding programme. A project to provide rabbits to health centers is designed to improve protein levels in daily diets. Kitchen gardens established at health centers contribute to improve household dietary diversity and built food security to reduce dependency on food assistance. To ensure improved adherence to anti-retroviral treatment by people suffering from HIV/AIDS, WFP provides patients with corn-soya blend (CSB), oil and sugar, to be served as porridge.

Every school day, 300,000 primary school students receive a hot lunch in 300 schools dotted around the most food-insecure parts of the country. WFP is working to strengthen government capacity in managing the Rwanda’s school meals programme. WFP will gradually hand over school meal responsibilities to the government with a full phase-out expected by 2012.

Threats to Food Security: 
  • High population density
  • Deforestation
  • Soil erosion
  • Low agricultural productivity
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Facts and Figures
Temperate; two rainy seasons (February to April, November to January); mild in mountains with frost and snow possible
Hills, with areas of rugged mountains. The divide between the Congo and Nile drainage systems extends from north to south.
Food production: 
Coffee, tea, bananas, beans, sorghum, potatoes; livestock
Annual harvest: 
Not available
Agricultural production (% of GDP): 
Human Development Index: 
Children under weight for age (% of children under 5): 
Population undernourished (% of total pop.): 
Global hunger index - label: 
Global hunger index - value: 
infant mortality rate per 1000 live birth - 2005 UNDP : 
Crisis Active: 
No Crisis