• Short Summary

    Rwanda--the tiny African country that lies land-locked in the heart of the continent is one of the world's poorest states.

  • Description

    Rwanda--the tiny African country that lies land-locked in the heart of the continent is one of the world's poorest states. And the latest report from the World bank forecasts that the gap between the world's richest and poorest nations in unlikely to narrow in the next decade. Income in developing countries is expected to increase from an annual figure of 499 dollars in 1975 to 773 dollars in 1990 -- a substantial overall increase of fifty-four per cent. But Rwanda's Gross National Product is already far behind even the poorest nations. The country is faced with a rapidly growing population and the problem of subsistence farming on over-cultivated land which is unable to meet the needs of the people.

    SYNOPSIS: Rwanda is considered one of the most beautiful countries in Africa. But it is mainly known for having one of the most impoverished populations in the world - possibly the poorest. The country - about the size of Belgium, is bound by Zaire, Uganda, Tanzania and Burundi. It has much in common with Burundi - also a very poor nation, and it relies heavily on Tanzania for direction in development matters. The country's climate is pleasing despite its proximity to the Equator because of its average altitude of 1400 metres (4,600 ft).

    The population of just about five million is a mainly rural one. And despite high population density - of 182 inhabitants per square mile (70 per square kilometre) people do not live in village.

    They congregate in market places to trade and buy their food. It is the shopping centres and churches - scattered in the hills, that bring people together. But it is difficult to organise communal programme of development to improve overall production.

    The government must import food annually to make up the deficit after harvest. And malnutrition plagues much of the population. The latest four year development plan which started in 1977 has pledged to tackle rural development problems, including crop diversification and the building of new roads in the rural areas. The priorities of the plan are agriculture, energy and education and experts and funds from Belgium, France, West Germany, China Egypt and Libya are helping to carry the programme through.

    People live in huts littered throughout the countryside, each one surrounded by crops, beans, sweet potatoes, and manioc (tapioca), which are dietary staples. Bananas are another staple used mainly to brew a local beer.

    Rwanda's foreign earnings more from coffee, tea and pyrethrum which is the base of many pesticides. But farmers must first overcome the ever-present problems of deforestation, soil erosion and the tsetse fly before they can increase both cash and domestic crop production.

    But even if crop production becomes more efficient, population growth remains a problem with predictions that it will have doubled - to ten million by the year 2000.

    More than half of all school age children attend classes. This French financed institution, the Lycee de Jeunes Filles of Kigali, aims to produce farmers capable of carrying out of agricultural development programmes.

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    Media URN:
    Reuters - Including Visnews
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