Rwanda sits just south of the equator on the African plateau. Although it is the second smallest country in Africa, Rwanda is the most densely populated with more than 900 people per square mile.

  • Population: 11,689,000
  • Life Expectancy: 58 years
  • Access to Safe Water: 65%
  • School Enrollment: 86%
  • Land Mass: 10,169 sq. mi.
  • Literacy Rate: 55%
  • Under Age 5 Mortality Rate: 111/1000
  • Average Annual Income (GNI): 460

Facts about Rwanda


Fallout from the genocide — along with chronic food insecurity, frequent droughts, and poverty — has prevented many children, especially girls, from enrolling in public school.


While primary school attendance has increased in the past few years, secondary school attendance remains one of the lowest in the world.

Economic Development

Rwanda ranks low on the Human Development Index — 167th out of 182 countries — and more than 60 percent of people live below the poverty line.


Nearly half of Rwanda’s people are children, and more than 220,000 have lost one or both parents to HIV and AIDS. Children are also vulnerable to Rwanda’s food insecurity; around 45 percent of children under 5 are malnourished and suffer from stunting.

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Progress in Rwanda

Thanks to the generous support of our sponsors. World Vision was able to work alongside communities to accomplish the following in 2012.

  • Trained key community health workers, who can then train others to help as many people as possible, in areas like maternal and child health, tuberculosis, malnutrition, and more.

  • Partnered with local community care coalitions and trained them on ways they can provide care and support to those that need it most, especially vulnerable children and adults, like orphans and widows.

  • Worked hand-in-hand with local health centers, giving them the resources they need to provide quality healthcare, including preventative services like immunizations.

  • Supported youth groups and clubs that focus on HIV and AIDS prevention, and also partnered with church leaders and community groups who care for people living with the disease, by providing training and food.

  • Helped rehabilitate malnourished children and equipped moms and other concerned adults with skills to prevent malnutrition. They learned how to grow their own nutrient-rich food in kitchen gardens, and helped explain how to feed infants and young children appropriate foods for their age.

  • Trained teachers on improved teaching methods, to help kids receive a quality education.

  • Improved facilities by constructing classrooms and latrines, as well as furnishing them with desks, tables, and chairs, so more girls and boys can attend school, and focus on their studies.

  • Worked with parent-teacher associations and trained them on school management issues to boost the quality of education.

  • Helped the most vulnerable children in the community, such as orphans, access education by providing school or vocational training center support.

  • Organized celebrations for the International and African Child Days, raising awareness on child rights among the community.

  • Trained community members on child rights and protection so more boys and girls feel safe in a loving environment.

  • Helped community groups and individuals develop entrepreneurial skills, enabling them to begin or continue generating an income.

  • Worked with communities to improve local granaries and a milk collection center, in addition to helping support local farms and provide more jobs related to the industry.

  • Provided training to community members on saving, lending, and financial management practices, giving them the ability to expand small businesses and save for the future.

  • Equipped farmers with the skills to increase their yields, like better livestock keeping practices.

  • Supported farmers with the agricultural tools to kick-start or improve their farms, like fruit and vegetable seeds, livestock, fertilizer, and power tillers.

  • Helped set up kitchen training centers and encouraged moms to adopt feeding practices that will improve their children's health in order to reduce malnutrition, especially in children under 5.

  • Provided water tanks to the community for collecting rain water from rooftops, helping prevent soil erosion and improving hygiene by supplying water for washing.

  • Trained key community members on trauma counseling techniques and held youth conferences that brought together young people from different denominations to promote peace and reconciliation.

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    World Vision in Rwanda Today

    World Vision is committed to partnering with the people of Rwanda to improve their lives today and to help enact sustainable solutions for the future of their children, families, and communities. World Vision’s child sponsorship program plays a vital role in this partnership, with donors from the United States sponsoring more than 23,200 girls and boys. In addition to sponsorship, World Vision operates other programs that benefit communities in Rwanda. Highlights include:

    • Supplying improved seeds to farmers to help promote food security.
    • Distributing school materials and assisting students with school fees, enabling children to continue their education.
    • Constructing water tanks to increase access to safe water.

    World Vision History in Rwanda

    World Vision assistance to Rwanda dates back to 1976; an office opened in response to the 1994 genocide.  Since then, some of World Vision’s major accomplishments have included:

    • Partnering with local churches to feed starving and malnourished people and assisting refugees from neighboring Burundi with food, medicines, tents, and blankets in the late 1980s.
    • Helping refugees fleeing from genocide and ethnic violence by providing them with health services, food, agricultural assistance, emergency relief supplies, and counseling since the 1990s.

    Geography & People

    Geography and people

    Rwanda sits just south of the equator on the African plateau. Although it is the second smallest country in Africa, Rwanda is the most densely populated with more than 900 people per square mile.

    Known as the “land of a thousand hills,” Rwanda contains grassy uplands and mountain ranges. The climate is temperate and with cooler temperatures in the mountains.

    Natural resources include gold, tin and tungsten ores, methane, hydropower, and arable land. Most Rwandans work in agriculture for a living, growing coffee, tea, bananas, sweet potatoes, sorghum, and beans, as well as raising livestock.

    The ethnic heritage of Rwanda is 84 percent Hutu, 15 percent Tutsi, and 1 percent Batwa. Although the Hutus and Tutsis are considered two separate ethnic groups and have a long past of ethnic conflict, many similarities exist. They speak the same language, have a history of intermarriage, and share much of the same culture.

    The official languages are Kinyarwanda, French, and English, with Swahili often used in commerce.


    Belgium took control of Rwanda in 1916 and ruled indirectly, leaving the Rwandan monarchy system in place. In 1959, the Hutus overthrew the Tutsi king, killing thousands of Tutsis and exiling nearly 150,000 more over the next few years. Freedom from European control came when Rwanda won independence from Belgium in 1962.

    The Rwandan Patriotic Front, a group of Tutsi exiles, started a civil war in 1990. One of the worst genocides in history happened during the war between April and July 1994. In 100 days, the Hutu-led military and a militia group killed close to 1 million Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

    When the Tutsis later defeated the Hutu military, more than 2 million Hutu refugees fled to neighboring countries in fear of retaliation. Nearly all public systems and health services in the country collapsed.

    After the genocide, Rwanda restored democratic presidential elections in 2003. In 2009, Rwanda helped the Congolese Army fight Hutu rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

    Prayer Requests for Rwanda

    • The children of Rwanda, who constitute half the population of the country, that they have the opportunity to thrive and experience God’s love.
    • Continued peace and reconciliation between Rwandans, especially as 20,000 ex-refugees are expected to return home in 2014.
    • The protection and care of children who are vulnerable to abuse and neglect.
    • Rwandans to continue healing and building peace as they continue to recover from the tragic 1994 genocide.