Rwanda continued to enjoy steady economic growth in 2018-2019, although it faced challenges due to both floods and drought. Rwanda continued to perform well on gender equality; women and men enjoy equal socio-economic and political rights. However, the following challenges still exist:
• Poverty has not been significantly reduced in recent years
• Continued childhood malnutrition
• High income inequality
• Limited access to justice and poor understanding of rights
• Limited freedom of speech and no space for political opposition
The Netherlands and Rwanda’s bilateral programme focuses on key interventions contributing to economic development, while at the same time contributing to:
• Ensuring enhanced food and nutrition security in the face of climate change risks
• Early childhood development
• Transition from aid to trade
• Access to quality justice for all
• More democratic space for citizens
Since the decision was taken to phase out bilateral development co-operation with Rwanda, economic diplomacy for sustainable trade and investment is increasingly at the centre of Dutch engagement with Rwanda.
In 2018-2019, work began towards phasing out bilateral development co-operation, in line with the decision by the Minister for International Trade and Development Co-operation to transition the focus of the bilateral relationship with Rwanda from aid to trade. In that light, the co-operation programme has been adjusted to maximise sustainability after the phase out. Nonetheless, the bilateral programme in 2019 was sizeable.
Through a multi-sectoral programme, the Netherlands continued to support Rwanda in combating malnutrition, while at the same time expanding opportunities for smallholder farmers to increase their income from horticulture.
The integrated water resources management programme continued to build the capacity of the government of Rwanda to manage its water resources and prepare for a future in which demand for water will increase manifold.
In the Security and Rule of Law sector, significant achievements were made in terms of access to justice through a legal helpline. Many groups consisting of genocide survivors and perpetrators worked on reconciliation through community sociotherapy.
As bilateral development co-operation is being phased out, the level of responsibility for local actors (in particular the Government of Rwanda) to take ownership of the interventions is increasing. Since the capacity of the local actors is sometimes constrained, careful attention is being given to capacity strengthening and the accompaniment of the Netherlands Embassy’s counterparts.