Rwanda is on track to achieve its population control target of three children per family, on average.
Speaking during a town-hall meeting, over the weekend, in line with the World Population Day marked on July 11, the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, John Rwangombwa, said that Rwanda now has a population of approximately 11 million and still growing.
He, however, observed that the World Population Day is not about the lamenting about the increasing number of people but rather how countries are able to deal with the problem of a growing population and at the same time reflect on the socio-economic well being of the people.
“By the end of this year, Rwandans are projected to be around 11 million. We will confirm the exact figure after next year’s census but our projection is that since the 2002 census, Rwandans have reached 11 million,” Rwangombwa said.
“However, the most important thing is not the figure, much as it is part of what we are looking at, but rather, how is the well being of the 11 million Rwandans? How many children go to school, how many access treatment? How are their incomes?” he added.
Rwangombwa said that the last few years have shown a positive trend in the country’s vision to control a population boom that was threatening to get out of hand, coming from an average of six children per woman to four children currently, moving towards three.
He said that today, more Rwandans have been able to acquire basic education qualifications which enable them to work and earn while over 90 percent of the people can access medical care to ensure that no Rwandans die of preventable diseases.
Dr. Uzziel Dr Uzziel Ndagijimana, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health attributed the positive trend to the increased awareness and use of family planning methods.
He observed that in 2005, only 10 percent of the people were using family planning, increasing to 27 percent in 2008, while a survey done in 2010 shows that 45 percent of married couples are using family planning.
“If you look at the last five years, moving from 10 percent to 45 percent is a very big step much as we know that the challenge is still massive,”
“The most important thing, however, is the change in mindset because in 2008, the percentage of women using family planning from urban areas was higher compared to women from rural areas,” Dr. Ndagijimana said.
He noted that in 2008, the number of women using family planning methods was at 36 percent compared to 26 percent in rural areas, a difference of 10 percent but the 2010 survey shows that rural areas are almost matching urban areas in adopting family planning measures.
Dr. Ndagijimana said that the 2010 surveys shows that the response to family planning in rural areas stands at 42 percent compared to 45 percent in the cities, which shows that the government’s family planning program has covered the whole country.
He noted that as more women continue to access education, family planning awareness increases, as reflected in most educated urban women who give birth to few children compared to their rural uneducated counterparts
Dr. Ndagijimana noted that there are various aspects contributing to this positive trend, mainly stemming from the government program’s to invest in education, agriculture, health and infrastructure, all of which have a direct impact on the socio-economic welfare of the population.
Minister Rwangombwa observed that there has been a general improvement in per capita income, moving from US$200 in the last 10 years to US$562 in 2010, an improvement reflected in the day to day lives of Rwanda.
He noted that the government will continue investing in areas that improve the standards of living of all Rwandans and make them self-sustaining citizens as stipulated by the country’s Vision 2020.
This year’s World Population Day was a lead up to another milestone -- the World at 7 Billion, which was the theme of the day.