CARE in Rwanda

CARE in Rwanda

Early Days

In 1984, CARE was formally invited by the Government of Rwanda to open an office and establish a comprehensive development program in the country. In the 1980s, even more so than now, the majority of the population was rural and dependent on subsistence agriculture. In addition, Rwanda was at the time hosting many refugees. One of the side effects of this was that forests were being rapidly cut down for energy consumption, thus increasing land erosion and contributing to rapid land degradation. CARE International’s first interventions in Rwanda therefore focused on reforestation, agro-forestry and energy conservation. Increasing access to safe water sources was (and still is) another important objective of CARE Rwanda in its early days.

Emergency Response and Rehabilitation

During the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, CARE International was forced to evacuate from Rwanda but within one month began emergency relief programming from a new operational base in Kabale, Uganda. CARE Rwanda reopened its Kigali office in mid-August 1994. During this period, CARE Rwanda focused on emergency relief, reconstruction and rehabilitation. Direct support to refugees and internally displaced people, specifically including unaccompanied children, included the distribution of food and non-food items, support to reunite children with their families, outpatient clinics in the Kibeho camp for internally displaced and support for HIV/AIDS prevention.

Another important project CARE focused on, given its previous experience, was land rehabilitation and reforestation of former camps for the internally displaced. CARE sought to ensure that all affected populations would actively participate in the management of their resources. This also had a positive effect in terms of healing and promoting a return to ‘normal’ life. The same can be said for the introduction of the Village Savings and Loans and the Nkundabana (child mentorship) model: they addressed needs while bringing people together, restoring trust and restoring a sense of normality.

In order to get people back on their feet, CARE started several seed and tool distribution projects aimed at providing sufficient food and seeds for the planting season so that farmers could start to cultivate the land without missing out on the planting season and thus generate enough food supplies for coming months. Other areas focused on by CARE during the rehabilitation phase were rebuilding water infrastructures and shelters to increase communities' abilities to reach clean water and decrease water-born diseases.

For further information, please see our Press Releases page for CARE Rwanda's 25th Anniversary Publication.