In Rural Rwanda
Geography & Climate
- Slightly smaller than Maryland, Rwanda is bordered by Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania and Uganda.
- Although just south of the equator, Rwanda has a temperate climate because of its high altitude.
- Rwanda is noted for its many lakes, particularly Lake Kivu on the western border, one of the 20 deepest lakes in the world.
- The terrain consists primarily of rolling hills and mountains, the highest of which is Mount Karisimbi (14,787 feet).
- A wide variety of wildlife, including rare mountain gorillas, attracts many tourists to Rwanda.
Most of Rwanda’s 12.3 million people (more than three-fourths) live in the countryside, making a meager living through subsistence farming.
People in rural areas earn roughly the equivalent of U.S.$0.82 per day.
Some eastern residents are cattle ranchers, but droughts sometimes deplete their livestock.
Farmland is often not fertile enough to grow crops, and food supplies are affected by poor agricultural practices.
Children at Home
Rwanda’s rural homes typically have mud walls, corrugated-iron or thatched roofs, and dirt floors.
These small dwellings are divided into two rooms that accommodate up to seven people, who usually sleep on woven mats.
For drinking and household use, water is obtained from nearby rivers and other unsafe sources.
Often, women and children spend hours each day just hauling water from the nearest source, which can be miles away.
Issues and Concerns
- The northern and western areas of Rwanda typically receive heavy amounts of rainfall during the rainy seasons — February to May and October to December. Often flooding and landslides result, taking lives and destroying homes and farms.
- By contrast, in the plains areas of the south and east, families suffer from frequent, prolonged drought, which often causes critical food shortages.
- In addition to climate issues, food supplies in Rwanda’s rural areas are affected by a decline in soil fertility, poor crop management, pests, poor storage, and the unavailability and expense of fertilizers to maintain crop yield.
- Because Rwanda is one of Africa’s most densely populated countries, family farms are extremely small, barely able to provide adequate food for large rural families even in the best of circumstances.
- Chronic malnutrition in Rwanda has grown dramatically among children age 5 and under in recent years.
- Other issues in the country’s rural areas are lack of health centers and sanitation.
- Just over half of rural families have access to adequate sanitation facilities. Only 62 percent have access to sources of clean water.
Local Needs and Challenges
Lack of clean water
Access to potable water is a serious need in rural areas. Children must travel one or two miles to get water from sources such as swamps or public wells.
Poorly built housing is another problem, and homes are often destroyed in landslides or floods during rainy season.
High rent forces families to move frequently, which affects children’s school and Compassion center performance.
This disease is an increasing problem among border communities.
Schools and Education
- The government’s provision of primary education means that most children are able to attend some school. Few, however, progress beyond the primary years.
- The school year starts in January and comprises three terms, ending in October.
- Despite the government’s commitment to provide education to all children, classrooms in rural areas are typically poorly equipped and overcrowded, with one teacher to every 50 students.
- Among Rwandans, only 70 percent of those over age 15 can read or write. And fewer women than men are literate.
Compassion Rwanda works to ensure that every registered child is able to attend school, and we provide additional support, including tutoring, at the child development centers.
At the Compassion Child Development Center
At Compassion-assisted child development centers in Rwanda’s rural region, children are receiving the help and learning opportunities they need to reach their potential in Christ.
Along with nutritious meals for proper physical development, they also receive medical assistance and hygiene training to stay healthy.
Tutoring helps to make up for any school deficiencies, and most important, they learn about the love of their heavenly Father.
What Compassion Sponsorship Provides
In partnership with local churches, Compassion is bringing help and hope to rural Rwanda’s children in need, providing:
- regular nutritious meals and snacks
- health checkups and medical care as needed
- the support needed to attend school
- training in good hygiene and medical assistance whenever they fall sick
- such basic necessities as soap, lotion, clothes and wash basins
- the fees, uniforms and supplies they need to attend school
- the love of God and hope of Christ’s salvation. Many have received Christ as their Savior and are growing in their faith.