Rwanda’s life expectancy shoots up to 64 years

Life expectancy of Rwandans has improved in two decades to 64.5 years in 2012 for both sexes. This is according to the final report of Fourth Population and Housing Census conducted in 2012 by the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda (NISR).
Murangwa (R) gives his remarks while releasing the report as Finance minister Claver Gatete (L) chats with Manneh in Kigali yesterday. (Timothy Kisambira)
Murangwa (R) gives his remarks while releasing the report as Finance minister Claver Gatete (L) chats with Manneh in Kigali yesterday. (Timothy Kisambira)

Life expectancy of Rwandans has improved in two decades to 64.5 years in 2012 for both sexes. This is according to the final report of Fourth Population and Housing Census conducted in 2012 by the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda (NISR).

The report was released yesterday in Kigali. 

In 2002, life expectancy was recorded at 48.4 years for men and 53.8 for women.

The survey indicates that since then, the population has increased by 2.4 million–an average annual growth rate of 2.6 per cent. 

Fifty-two percent of the 10.5 million people are women. 

Releasing the report, NISR director-general Yusuf Murangwa said the improvement in life expectancy is a result of vigorous interventions over the past decade to fight against the leading causes of death in Rwanda, including malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/Aids. 

“The results reflect the long-term impact of earlier interventions aimed at recovering from the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi,” Murangwa said.

“These actions resulted into better access to healthcare and improved living conditions; for instance one million Rwandans escaped from poverty between 2006 and 2011 according to EICV 2010/2011.” 

He said more health facilities were built and evenly distributed across the country, mosquito nets distributed to households, immunisation campaigns conducted, universal access to medical insurance established and hygiene promoted. 

Statistics from Ministry of Health also indicate that the number of non-private health facilities increased from 579 in 2010 to 720 in 2011. 

There was one doctor per 17,200 inhabitants in 2011 compared to one doctor per 75,000 in 2000, according to Ministry of Health, while access to health facilities increased from 31 per cent in 2003 to 95 per cent in 2010.  

“As seen in the Demography and Health Survey 2010, 98 per cent of mothers received antenatal care from trained personnel, and over 90 per cent of the children received vaccination. On average, 78 per cent of households have health insurance, an increase from 68 per cent in 2007,” Uzziel Ndagijimana, the permanent secretary at the Ministry of Health, said during the report launch. 

The report was hailed by the UN as an accurate picture of the country that government and its partners can use in implementing development programmes. 

“The findings of this report indicate that the Rwandan government has continuously shown priority in better data and statistics to help in fast-tracking progress and ensuring that decisions are evidence-based,” Lamin Maneh, UN resident coordinator, said.

Poverty 

Poor people in Rwanda account for 37 per cent of the population of which one million live below poverty line, while 2.8 million are moderately poor, according to the report. 

It also indicates that unemployment rate stood at 3.4 per cent in 2012, being severe among the youth in urban areas. 

Rwanda’s labour market is predominantly agriculture, employing 73 per cent of the working class.

The Minister for Agriculture, Dr Agnes Kalibata, said although farming remains largely subsistence in nature, government aims to mechanise and utilise the vast human and natural resources at its disposal. 

“With rapid increase in population, the pressure on ensuring food security is a constant challenge, but significant progress has been made in the past decade with regard to overall agricultural production,” Dr Kalibata said. 

Literacy up 

The Fourth Population and Housing Census indicates that while about 26 per cent of the population had never attended school, a comparison with previous censuses indicates that the general picture of access to education is improving.

Reading results from the report, Rurangwa said the percentage of the population who never attended school decreased from 61 per cent in 1978 to 19 per cent in 2012. 

“In 2012, about 57 per cent of the population aged three and above attended primary school, 12 per cent had attended either post-primary or secondary school, and about 2 per cent had tertiary education,” Murangwa said. 

“The gender gap has been diminishing consistently.  Among those with no education, the gender gap stood at 17 per cent in 1978 as compared to just 7 per cent in 2012.” 

It further indicates that about 68 per cent of the population aged 15 and above is able to read and write in at least one language. 

Access to water and electricity

Only 18 per cent of Rwandan households have access to electricity, while 57 per cent rely on either kerosene lamps, firewood or candles for lighting. 

Access to clean water increased from 51 per cent in 1978 to 73 per cent in 2012.

To attain Millennium Development Goals, Rwanda has committed to improving the coverage of adequate water, sanitation and hygienic facilities among the population by 2020,” Ndagijimana said. 

NISR said the report is 99 per cent accurate.

Jozef Maerien, the representative of the UN Population Fund, lauded the report for being detailed in areas that most matter for the country and its partners.

“The report has shown that investments in family planning have paid off. You can imagine how Rwanda’s life expectancy will improve in 20 years if more investments are made in the health sector,” Maerien said. 

“It also highlights that the main challenge to Rwanda right now is how to create jobs to serve the growing population. Rwanda needs more people to work and take care of the large young population.”

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SURVEY HIGHLIGHTS

Health. Access to health facilities increased from 31 per cent in 2003 to 95 per cent in 2010. One doctor per 17,200 patients in 2011 compared to one doctor per 75,000 in 2000.  

Poverty. Poor people in Rwanda account for 37 per cent of the population, of which one million people are below the poverty line. 

Unemployment. Unemployment rate stood at 3.4 per cent in 2012, being severe among the youth in urban areas.

Literacy. Percentage of the population who never attended school decreased from 61 per cent in 1978 to 19 per cent in 2012. 

Water. Access to clean water increased from 51 per cent in 1978 to 73 per cent in 2012.

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