Is Rwanda too small for its population?

BY GODWIN AGABA According to Government reports, Rwanda’s population is 8.3 million and is set to double to 16 million by 2020. Rwanda’s population density, which is the highest in sub-Saharan Africa, is 332 people per square kilometer (128 people per square mile). The findings are in the second Integrated Household Survey on Living Conditions conducted in 2005/06, by Rwanda National Institute of Statistics. It provides information on changes in the well-being of the population of Rwanda. The surveys show that consumption per capita has grown, in real terms, at an average rate of around 3.0 percent per annum. Growth was highest in rural areas, and varied between provinces, with Eastern Province highest at 6.1 percent; and Northern Province lowest at 1.2%. Poverty has declined as a result. Using comparable measures of consumption and poverty lines, the surveys showed that the proportion of individuals in poverty declined from 60.4 to 56.9 per cent over the period. Extreme poverty, using a lower poverty line, also declined. Poverty declined most in other urban areas in proportionate terms. In rural areas, poverty declined from 66.1 to 62.5 per cent. Progress in rural areas is critical to having on overall impact on poverty, since most of the poor are located there. Poverty remains an overwhelmingly rural phenomenon: even with the decline, over 90 per cent of the poor are living in rural areas. They show that enrolment in primary schools has increased substantially over the period, with a rise in the net enrolment rate from 74 to 86 per cent. A small fraction of children complete primary education and go on to secondary education. The surveys show that the secondary net enrolment rate has shown only a small increase over the period, from 7 to 10 per cent. In rural areas, only 8 per cent of children aged 13 to 18 years are in secondary education. Household expenditure on primary school students has remained approximately constant when adjusted for inflation, standing at an average Frw1, 845 per student per year. The most money is spent on uniforms. The cost of secondary schooling is much higher, with households spending an average of around Frw68, 000 each year on secondary school students. Wealthier households spend much more than poorer households on secondary schooling. The frequency of medical consultations has increased only marginally, despite the incidence of reported illness having risen. However, the use of antenatal services has increased substantially and differences in utilisation between poorer and less poor households have narrowed. Some 47 per cent of individuals are now covered by health insurance, the vast majority by mutuelle insurance arrangements. This seems to have substantially reduced out-of-pocket payments for health care. Users are broadly satisfied with most government services. Overall, satisfaction is highest with the district administration, primary education and health services, and the lowest satisfaction with drinking water supplies. There has been little change overall in the provision of safe of drinking water. Some 64 per cent of households have access to a safe source, the same percentage as in 2000/01. Almost 10 per cent fewer households collect their water from a free public pump or standpipe, and more are collecting water from a public spring or buying it. The change from free to purchased water is particularly marked in urban areas outside Kigali. In Kigali, there has been a decline in the proportion of households using protected sources. There has been a move towards enclosing pit latrines, with 58 percent of households using them in 2005/06 compared with 50 per cent in 2000/01. This increase is most pronounced in rural areas. Economic activity and time use In employment, there has been some movement out of agricultural activities, with a decline from 88 to 80 per cent of working adults reporting it as their main occupation. There has been an increase in people working in commerce and sales, the skilled service sector and in unskilled elementary occupations. In terms of industry, growth has been largest in wholesale and retail trade and domestic services have seen the largest increase. Men have moved out of agriculture to a greater degree than have women and 86 per cent of women continue to work in agriculture and fisheries. Information collected on time use shows that workers in agriculture work the shortest number of hours, at 27 hours per week, compared with an overall average of 31 hours. This suggests underemployment. Perhaps reflecting this, rural dwellers are particularly likely to have more than one job. Women work fewer hours than men in employment – 28 compared with 35 hours per week. However, this is compensated by domestic labour, on which women spend 21 hours per week compared with nine hours of men. Children provide a significant amount of domestic labour, rising from 9 hours per week for children aged 7 to 10 years to 15 hours per week for children aged 16 to 20. Girls do substantially more than boys; 23 hours per week compared with 10 hours for boys. Children under 11 years old do very little paid work, but 11 percent of 11 to 15 year olds do some paid work. The proportion of households owning livestock has increased from 60 to 71 per cent. The average number of animals owned by households that own them has changed little. There has been an increase in the utilisation of agricultural inputs (seeds, insecticides and fertiliser), with reported use of chemical fertilizers among agricultural households having increased from 5 to 11 percent. Some 19 percent of adults over 15 years old have changed their district of residence in the last five years. Migration is mostly due to work postings and family reasons. The main destination of migrants within Rwanda is the City of Kigali. However, the survey showed improvements in a number of important areas. They include a decline in income poverty, an increase in the ownership of some consumer goods, and improvements in the welfare of some vulnerable groups. It has also shown an increase in primary school enrolment and enrolment at secondary level has also increased although it remains low. A higher proportion of people have been able to find jobs outside the agricultural sector, however, the main challenge for the future will be ensuring that the poor benefit from growth equitably. Patterns of ownership of core durable goods Households’ ownership of durable goods provides further insight into the living conditions of households and offers comparisons with their consumption poverty status. Households provided information about their ownership of a list of common household durable goods. From this list of goods, several key items were selected for analysis. These included basic household furniture, communication equipment, and basic means of transport. Ownership of all these goods increased between the two surveys, although, depending on the items, patterns differ between poor and non poor households. Bicycle ownership increased from 7 per cent in 2000/01 to 13 per cent in 2005/06. Although ownership levels among both and non-poor almost doubled, the ownership gap between the two did not change: 20% of non-poor households own a bicycle in 2006 compared to 6.5% among the poor. By 2005/06 more than half of all Rwanda households owned a radio. Seventeen per cent more poor households now own a radio than was the case in 2000/01. While radios are to be found in both poor and non-poor households, ownership of a television set is still very low (2%) and concentrated among the non-poor. Telephone or cell phone ownership at national level stood at only 6% in 2005/06, with the ownership pattern illustrating the telecommunications gap between the poor (less than 1%) and the non-poor (13%). Nationally, less than 1% of households had a computer available a home, and this will be a challenge in developing a national information technology culture. Ownership of basic furniture has also improved nationally: By 2005/06 more that 54% of households had at a least one standard bed, compared to 44% in 2000/01. The poor are acquiring beds at a faster rate than their non-poor counterparts, although still only 40% of poor house holds had one in 2005/06. Formal living room furniture is still very uncommon, with only 10% of households owning a suite of furniture by 2005/6, an increase of less than 3% since 2000/01. The situation of specific vulnerable groups The changes in the poverty status of vulnerable sub-population groups illustrates the effectiveness of policies designed to reach the most vulnerable in society. In the survey it is possible to distinguish three types of vulnerable groups: households headed by women, by widows, and by children (children are defined here as persons of less than 21 years). Between 2000/01 and 2005/06, poverty levels in all three vulnerable groups fell, as did the share of the population livingin these vulnerable households. However, the pattern of change differed by group, bringing some groups closer in terms of poverty levels. The population in female and widow headed households started out with different poverty levels (68% for widow headed households and 66% for female headed ones) but by 2005/06 poverty levels in both groups were at approximately 60%. These two groups tend to have higher than average poverty levels, even in 2005/06, however, the decline in poverty was better than the national average: around 6% compared to 3.5% at national level. Poverty levels among child headed households closely resembled the national trend; the change in poverty levels between the two surveys was virtually the same as the national trend. Compared to the other two groups, the population share of child headed households is extremely small and showed a 50% decline between the two years (1.3 % in 2000/01, 0.7% in 2005/06). The downward trend in child headed households shows the recovery from the events of 1994 for this vulnerable group. The urban–rural profile of child headed households is also different from the general population, showing a higher rise in urban residence (from 19% to 23%) compared to the 16% to 17% national level. On the other hand, female and widow-headed households reflect the national pattern of predominantly rural residence, with no change in this pattern between the two surveys. Education Enrolment Enrolment rates in both primary and secondary schools have increased substantially between 2000/01 and 2005/06. More than eight out of every ten children of the official primary school age (aged 7–12 years) are now reported to be attending primary school. The considerable improvement in this net enrolment rate between the two surveys indicates that Rwanda is making good progress towards the second Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of universal primary education. The data suggest, too, that the net primary enrolment rate for female students, which had already achieved parity with those of male students in 2000/01, has now slightly overtaken the male enrolment rate, with 87% of female students of primary age reportedly attending primary school, compared with 85% of male students. Housing and access to water and sanitation The surveys asked about household dwellings and access to basic services. It is important to note that the numbers of dwellings have grown between the surveys by approximately 280,000. This growth has been roughly proportionate between the strata, but the number of dwellings in ‘other urban areas’ has grown at a slightly faster rate, which may explain the slight deterioration in the provision of some basic services in these towns. A few indicators have been selected for analysis in this report. The indicators chosen are roofing materials, toilet facilities, access to drinking water, and fuels for lighting and cooking. The roofing material used by households gives a good indication of the status of the household occupying the dwelling. Corrugated iron roofs are a largely urban feature, with 97% of households in the City of Kigali having an iron roof to their homes, and 55% with iron roofs in other urban areas. In other urban areas another 32% of households use tiles for their roofs, in rural areas the pattern of roofing materials is more mixed, with almost 50% using tiles, around 40% using iron and the remainder using thatch. Nationally tiled roofs have slightly increased their usage, compensated by a decline in thatched roofing. Iron roofs have remained at a constant 44% between the surveys. The use of electricity for lighting has remained relatively constant between the two surveys, although its use has increased in urban areas. In Kigali there has been a modest fall in the proportion of households using electricity. Nationally over two-thirds of households use the traditional lamp, a proportion that has risen since 2000/01. Firewood as a lighting fuel has also declined, especially in the rural areas, where households are now using the traditional lamp in greater proportions. The pattern of fuel use for cooking is relatively unchanged between the two surveys, although there is a slight decrease in the use of fossil fuels. Jobs patterns The data collected was on the main jobs of persons aged 16 years and over, who had worked in the 12 month period previous to each survey. The results are presented by occupation, that is, the actual job a person does, and then by the industry in which the individual works. An office clerk working in a drinks factory would therefore take the occupation ‘office clerk’ and the industry ‘manufacturing’. For farmers the industry and occupation tends to be the same. The overwhelming majority of the country’s working population is employed in agriculture, working as own account farmers. Some 90% of the country’s population lives in households in which at least one person works in agriculture, a proportion which has changed very little in the years between the surveys. The total number of persons whose main job is in agriculture has grown significantly, the change in the proportions of occupations does not mean that the number of agricultural jobs has fallen, rather that more jobs are now available in other professions and industries. Some 80% of adults work in agriculture as their main occupation, but in the City of Kigali this falls to 15%, a proportion which has changed little over the period between the surveys. Movement away from agricultural has occurred mainly in other urban and rural areas. The poverty line To measure poverty in Rwanda, a threshold level of consumption is created below which individuals are considered to be poor. The previous Poverty Profile computed an absolute poverty line following the widely internationally used Cost of Basic Needs methods. This was based on a food basket, which had a monetary value of 45,000FRw per adult per year. An estimated non-food component was added to this, based on the, consumption patterns of those households whose food expenditure was within plus or minus ten percent of the food poverty line. This gave an overall poverty line of Frw4, 000. An extreme poverty line of Frw45, 000 was also used. In order to look at changes in poverty line it is important to use the same threshold in real terms. The same poverty lines were therefore used for the poverty analysis in this report, but now rescaled such that it is expressed in current prices. This gives 90,000FRw per adult per year for the poverty line, and Frw63, 500 for the extreme poverty line. These figures translate into Frw250 and Frw175/adult/day respectively.
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