More Rwandans registered a significant improvement in their living conditions despite a marginal drop in poverty levels over the last three years, according National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda (NISR).
Poverty levels dropped by one percentage point from 39.1 per cent in the 2013/14 fiscal year to 38.2 per cent in 2016/17, the statistics body said in its fifth Integrated Household Living Conditions Survey (EICV5), launched on Thursday.
The Director General of NISR, Yusuf Murangwa, said that the slow drop in poverty was due to sustained drought that hit the country in 2016, roiling agricultural output.
Overall, he said, the economy remains good and stable.
The data was collected from a sample of 14,580 households with 64,314 people.
It covered a wide range of economic and socio-demographic variables, with situations in different areas captured, including in demography, migration, health, education, housing, economic activity, environment, credits and savings, as well as poverty and social protection.
“We see that most livelihood dimensions continue to improve; from demographics, housing conditions, economic activity, access to electricity, and technology among others,” Murangwa said
Although poverty levels did not fall very much, living conditions for Rwandans improved significantly, with critical indicators such as access to electricity moving from 22 per cent to 34 per cent of households.
Among other indicators of wellbeing, households with metal roofs moved from 61 per cent to 67 per cent while radio ownership moved from 60 per cent to 74 per cent.
“We are coming to appreciate that poverty is not only about income and expenditure. It’s also about other living conditions such as housing, access to electricity and water among other things,” Murangwa said.
A terrible drought that hit the country in 2016 season B is blamed for the slow poverty reduction during the survey period as it affected crop production and created shortages in food supply.
The drought also increased food prices in 2017 and reduced public consumption, the report said.
“The resultant effect is low poverty reduction. Rwanda was not the only country affected by the drought,” the report states.
The statistics body has called for mechanisms to minimise shocks caused climate change.
Women work in potato farm in Muko Sector, Musanze District. Sam Ngendahimana.
“It is very important that we see how to mitigate shocks, especially those related to climate change; we need to strengthen our mechanisms to respond,” Murangwa said.
NISR also recommended the strengthening of the country’s social protection programme to effectively support households that get most hit by the shocks.
The Minister for Finance and Economic Planning, Uzziel Ndagijimana, said that the government already has plans to strengthen programmes to reduce the impact from climate change such as increasing agricultural production through irrigation and other practices.
Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente said among the efforts being implemented to reduce poverty include focusing on quality education to improve human capital development, increase exports, strengthen regional integration to access more markets, and promote a well-managed urbanisation, modern agriculture, and both capable and accountable public institutions.
“The Government of Rwanda has no doubt that a better implementation of all programmes that are designed to help the country in eradicating poverty will bear good fruits,” the premier said.
He said that EICV5 results call for doubling efforts by all stakeholders including the government, all Rwandans, and the Private Sector and Development Partners, to keep reducing poverty in the country.
The Integrated Household Living Conditions Survey is carried out by NISR every three years.