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Slowing down overpopulation in Rwanda

Helena Spriet
17 December 2019
In order to fight overpopulation in Rwanda, the Belgian Development Cooperation, together with Rwanda, wants to improve health care, especially sexual and reproductive health. In doing so, it focuses mainly on family planning.


Every day, there are about 227 000 births worldwide. Totally, there are already  about 7.7 billion people on Earth. This poses  several challenges such as potential shortages of water, food, energy and raw materials.

The situation in Rwanda is alarming. The population more than doubled between 1978 (4.8 million) and 2012 (10.5 million). In 2032, 16 million people will live there. The population density in Rwanda, one of the highest in Africa, is 512 inhabitants/km², while in Belgium it is 379.2 inhabitants/km². Although the number of births has decreased slightly since 2000, population growth remains high. Apparently, the number of births is decreasing too slowly while also the death rate is dropping.

However, another demographic model would allow the Rwandan economy to prosper. In that case, there must be more people working for the system than people are dependent on it. In order to make this possible, we need to invest more in family planning, youth education and the health sector. At best, every dollar invested in family planning could yield up to 112 dollars between 2015 and 2050. The health sector would make the biggest profits (48%), followed by education (28%) and the economy (20%).

At best, every dollar invested in family planning could yield up to 112 dollars between 2015 and 2050.

Human rights

The Belgian Development Cooperation - through the Belgian Development Agency Enabel - is allocating a total amount of €26.7 million to the Rwandan government and is also working on an innovation project implemented at district level. What is new for Enabel is that it is based on a results-based funding approach: the agency does not pay money until the results have been achieved.

Ultimately, every resident from the districts concerned must have access to family planning services and sexual and reproductive rights. This is a human right. To achieve this, Enabel also emphasizes the self-reliance of the population. It is necessary to inform the community and its behavior should change.

Demography Rwanda Gender
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