Learn more about specific causes in Rwanda that you can get involved in.
EnvironmentSome of the primary environmental concerns facing Rwanda are overgrazing, degradation, and erosion of soil. Due to its heavy reliance on the agricultural industry, soil has been largely depleted of nutrients and fertility. Deforestation also presents a threat to the wellbeing of the environment due to wood’s widespread use as a fuel source.1 The Rwanda Environment Management Agency (REMA) is active in promoting environmental concerns and reporting on environmental action in Rwanda. It is one of the only African nations that has been able to adequately prepare itself for the climate change effects of floods and droughts.2
FamilyFamilies in Rwanda tend to be large, as the number of children a family contains is considered to be a symbol of wealth and prosperity.The average family has nearly five children.2 According to the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion, Rwanda also has faced problems with domestic violence, and the culture highly stigmatizes this which causes nearly all cases to go unreported.3
Human RightsFollowing the 1994 Rwandan genocide, the government passed laws criminalizing genocide ideology for fear of future political unrest. Consequently, Rwanda effectively operates as a one-party state marked with strong intolerance for all forms of dissent. Political opponents to the Rwandan Patriotic Front face restrictions on freedom of association and freedom of expression.1 Aid and human rights organizations worldwide express concern of the ongoing arbitrary arrests, unfair trials, and use of torture in detention centers. Rwanda continues to try to bring justice to those responsible for the genocide.2
EducationRwanda has the highest primary school enrollment rate in all of Africa at 96%. Even with this high enrollment rate, there are concerns over the quality of education and duration.1 Only 41% of children continue on to secondary school, and there are large attendance discrepancies between urban and rural areas. Many teachers are not qualified and there is not sufficient infrastructure for students to have individual help.2 The national literacy rate is at 70%.3
PovertyNearly 40% of Rwanda’s population live below the poverty line.1 With many people dependent on agriculture, resolutions to the poverty crisis are difficult to formulate and implement without improving the economic outlook.1 At the root of the country’s poverty problem is the lingering effects of the 1994 genocide. This began the cycle of social and economic devastation.2
ReligionRwanda’s constitution provides for religious freedom, and this is generally enforced. Individuals or institutions that limit another’s ability to practice religion freely are subject to fines and imprisonment of up to five years.1 The population is approximately 49% Roman Catholic, 39% Protestant, 4.5% other Christian, and 1.8% Muslim.2
Clean Water71% of Rwanda’s population has access to improved drinking water, and 61.3% of the population has access to sanitation facilities.1 Compared to other sub-Saharan African countries, this is a very high percentage. Difficulties in water access, particularly where agriculture sustains the majority of the population, is a significant problem and can often trap people in cycles of poverty. Diarrhea from drinking from unclean water sources is one of the leading causes of death for children under 5 years old.2
EconomyRwanda is largely regarded as an economic development success story because of their structural changes and a good entrepreneurial environment. Government reforms and reconciliation efforts have mitigated the influence of corruption and inspired free market practices.1 Even with these improvements, Rwanda still depends heavily on foreign aid, and governmental weaknesses prevent further private expansion. The unemployment rate is under 5%, but many people still rely on subsistence farming as their job.2
GovernmentRwanda is considered a multiparty republic. Under the constitution, the president, who serves as head of state, is directly elected to a seven-year term, renewable once.1 For administrative purposes, the country is divided into four provinces (North, East, South, and West) and one city (Kigali), each headed by a governor. The country had previously been divided in 10–12 prefectures since independence, but the administrative structure was reorganized in 2006 in an effort to decentralize power and create multiethnic areas.
HealthOver 140,000 adults in Rwanda suffer from HIV/AIDS, and this epidemic has left thousands of children without one or both parents.1 In a nation plagued by poverty, much of the population, particularly children, suffers from malnutrition. Roughly half of Rwandan children experience stunted growth due to malnourishment and approximately 20% are underweight. The life expectancy is 65.2
Children50% of the country’s population is under the age of 18, and 86% of these children live in rural areas.1 Since the horrific genocide at the end of the twentieth century, Rwanda has made significant strides in reducing the infant and child mortality rates and the overall quality of life for children. Now, only 46 children out of 1,000 children will die before their fifth birthday.2
AnimalsThe mountain gorilla is the crown jewel of Rwanda and each year this unique animal attracts thousands of tourists. There are other rare animals like zebras, lions, hippopotamuses, buffalo, and warthogs.1 As the human population rapidly increases, some animals are poached more often and their habitats are destroyed.2
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