Cécile Mujawayezu at the Bungwe Health Center counsels 12-year-old Jean-Claude as part of our AIDSRelief programming. Photo by Helen Blakesley/CRS

Cécile Mujawayezu at the Bungwe Health Center counsels 12-year-old Jean-Claude as part of our AIDSRelief programming. Photo by Helen Blakesley/CRS

CRS' Commitment to Catholic Teaching

The Rwandan adult population, about 74 percent of the total population, is largely based in rural areas; 58 percent of the adult population is female and 72 percent of the population is dependent on subsistence agriculture. Child mortality decreased over the past 5 years but still is 50/1,000 for infants and 76/1,000 for children under 5. Maternal mortality is still high at 476/100,000 live births. 44 percent of children under 5 are stunted. HIV prevalence is 3.7 percent for women and 2.2 percent for men.

The Rwanda operating environment is characterized by rapid change and economic growth. Poverty has declined from 58 percent in 2000 to 45 percent in 2012. The continuing legacy of the 1994 genocide is weak social cohesion that impedes the ability of vulnerable households to cope with shocks. Priority programming sectors for Catholic Relief Services Rwanda include agriculture and food security, health and nutrition, economic strengthening and peacebuilding.

The Catholic Church is one of the longest standing institutions in Rwanda's modern history. The reach of the Church and its involvement in socio-economic and peacebuilding activities is substantial.

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Population:12,012,589 (2013 est.)
Size:10,169 sq mi; about the size of Maryland
People Served:393,385


Catholic Relief Services began operations in Rwanda before 1960, providing humanitarian assistance from neighboring countries until it established an office in 1963.

From the 1960s until the late 1980s, CRS implemented a large-scale nation-wide school-feeding program. In the 1980s, CRS increased its focus on small enterprise development and agricultural production. During the early 1990s, CRS managed U.S. government-provided food assistance and other aid to respond to the needs of a population suffering increasingly from unrest and fighting.

In June 1994, CRS began an immediate response to the short-term emergency needs of the ravaged country, torn by war and genocide, and continued this emergency support through 1997. CRS also initiated several agricultural rehabilitation programs to give returnees and the internally displaced the necessary seeds and tools to re-launch agricultural activities, the chief livelihood of rural Rwandans.

Between 1997 and 2001, CRS programs shifted from emergency aid to transition programming. This included the construction of houses for the displaced and institutional feeding to Safety Net centers caring for orphaned children, street children, the elderly and the handicapped. From the turn of the millennium through 2005, the CRS program moved out of transition activities into more focused livelihood interventions and greater engagement with its Caritas partners. With the launching of The President's Emergency Program for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), CRS dramatically increased HIV and AIDS activities in 2004 by supporting antiretroviral therapy services to rural health centers, building community capacity to care for orphans and vulnerable children, and promoting abstinence and Be Faithful interventions in schools and communities.

At present, CRS works with the Catholic Church and other partners through an integrated approach combining agriculture, nutrition and economic strengthening to help vulnerable people improve the quality of their lives.


United States Agency for International Development/PEPFAR
Green Mountain Coffee Roasters
Catholic Diocese of Cyangugu


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