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10 Facts About Hunger in Rwanda

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By Alexandra Murdoch

This week marks 21 years since the start of the 100 day genocide in Rwanda that resulted in a reported 800,000 deaths. WFP remembers the victims of this horrifying historical event and takes a look at how Rwanda’s history has shaped the country it is today.

Rwanda ranks 151 (out of 187 countries) on the Human Development Index.

WFP has been working in Rwanda since 1972, when the agency provided food assistance to those affected by the country’s 1970s crop failures.

Although the rate of malnutrition is decreasing, much more remains to be done. Over 40 per cent of Rwandan children under five are chronically malnourished. WFP focuses its development activities in poorest areas to improve food security and the nutritional status of these children and their families.

The 1994 genocide greatly disrupted farming and food production in Rwanda. Many were forced to flee the country and found themselves in surrounding areas without the means to feed themselves.

Floods and droughts have also contributed to food insecurity in Rwanda - In 1979, floods made it impossible to cultivate crops and then in 1980, drought was the driving force behind hunger. WFP provided food to affected people throughout both periods.

Rwanda is currently home to over 72,000 refugees, mainly from eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, hosted in five camps. They rely entirely on WFP food to meet their nutritional needs as they have limited livelihood opportunities.

Rwanda signed a cessation clause in 2011 to end the refugee status of tens of thousands Rwandans still living as refugees and asylum seekers in neighbouring countries. Around 400 people return monthly to Rwanda and receive three-month’s worth of food rations from WFP.

Life expectancy in Rwanda is 64.1 years and households headed by women or orphans account for 36 per cent of the population.

Agricultural transformation has been identified as the main pillar for achieving economic development and food security in Rwanda. The country plans to increase income per capita from $644 to $1,240 by 2020.

Rwanda was the first country to sign the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) compact and to secure funding, ensuring that malnutrition and food security are one of the Government's key priorities.