The tiny land-locked country of Rwanda, in central Africa, stands in greater need of economic aid than almost any other country in Africa.
The tiny land-locked country of Rwanda, in central Africa, stands in greater need of economic aid than almost any other country in Africa. The former Belgian colony lacks any natural resources, and its already dense population is expanding rapidly. The four-year developments plan introduced in 1977 stresses the need for growth in three areas - agriculture, energy and education. European aid is being channelled mainly into these areas.
SYNOPSIS: Time, money and manpower are three requirements to reform peasant agriculture. In Rwanda these are very scarce, but there have been encouraging developments in recent years, although only about half the land can be cultivated, and only three-quarters of that is used for major crops such as coffee, tea and pyrethrum.
Tea and pyrethrum are preferred crops because they employ many people and are important exports. The pyrethrum plant's blossoms yield insecticides after drying.
Much development of tobacco cultivation, like the pyrethrum industry, is financed by the European Development Fund (EDF). Traditional crops for local consumption, including beans, corn, sweet potatoes, bananas an Manioc (tapioca), yield a diet that is low in protein.
There are very few large villages in Rwanda. Except for a few centres, the population lives in houses or huts, scattered on the hills. The people meet mostly at markets and churches.
A huge sign announces the European Development Funds' projects. With the Fund's help new roads are being constructed to link the various parts of this small country, of four point eight million people. It is the most densely-populated country in Africa.
Rwanda is known as the country of a thousand hills, and building highways required the finance and expertise of the EDF. This border road runs about ninety five miles (152 kilometres) from Kigali to Burundi.
Another EDF project is the Mukunga Dam. It will provide power for the Lake Luhondo power station, which will operate two generators each producing 6 megawatts. The scattered communities of Rwanda increase the difficulty for planners developing modern facilities and the population is expected to reach ten million by the year 2000.
One out of every two children goes to school and the government is now trying to increase the number of post-primary agricultural schools. A national teacher training institute and a medical school are being built in Butare.
And the EDF has granted twelve hundred scholarships to Rwandan students so they can study in Europe.