The World Bank has clarified and endorsed the country’s poverty reduction rate after news reports claimed the statistics about Rwanda’s poverty reduction had been tampered with.
The statement which was published on the World Bank’s website on Friday says the World Bank staff weighed in publicly, clearly, and with commensurate technical rigour on the Rwanda poverty measurement debate in a working paper (Revisiting the Poverty Trend in Rwanda: 2010/11 to 2013/14) published in September 2018.
In the abstract of the paper, the authors said that the primary motivation for this study was provided by the fact that official statistics published by the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda (NISR) showed that the country registered a decline in poverty from 46 per cent in 2010/11 to 39 per cent in 2013/14, the declining poverty trend which was broadly debated and repeatedly questioned in national and international forums.
World Bank’s statement indicated that NISR shared the underlying survey data and engaged in constructive discussions to elaborate in detail on the methodology used to measure and monitor poverty in Rwanda.
NISR used a poverty line of Rwf159,375 per adult per year in January 2014 prices when estimating poverty rates in the fourth Integrated Household Living Conditions Survey (EICV4) which assessed poverty levels among Rwandans in the period in question.
“The published technical paper was based on careful and clearly set-out analysis, with a finding that supported the official trend published in NISR (2016),” the statement reads in part.
Speaking to Sunday Times, Yusuf Murangwa, Director-general of NISR said that the 2010/2011-2013/2014 was the most staple period when poverty dropped.
“That was the most stable period in recent history – after the  genocide [against Tutsi] – in terms of inflation, economy, and businesses. There is no way poverty could have increased during that period.
He said that people arguing that the statistics on Rwanda’s poverty cut are not true, are wrong and their work is not professional.
“All those claims are just aimed at misleading, which is unfortunate, but, the facts are very clear. When they argue that our economy is not good, we see that they are not knowledgeable about what they are talking about, or they are deliberately misleading,” he said.
“So, we are happy with the World Bank statement. It reflects our professionalism,” he said.
He indicated that there are many things that actually show that poverty reduced in that period.
“Businesses improved a lot, agriculture was doing well, nutrition of Rwandans improved; infant mortality, maternal mortality, all those indicators improved,” he observed.
One of the conclusions of the World Bank 2018 technical paper said that findings from its analysis support the official trend published in NISR (2016).
“We also compare the methodology adopted by NISR (2015) and NISR (2016) and although both produce similar poverty trends, it shows several methodological advantages of the latter,” it stated.
“Moreover, we show that poverty rates for Rwanda measured at an international poverty line, $1.90 per day per capita (about Rwf1,600), also show a declining poverty trend if the international measure properly adjusts for spatial price variations across regions and temporal price variations during survey data collection,” it added.