Rwanda’s Poverty Reduction Strategy 2002-2005

Commissioned as an independent evaluation by the Ministry of Finance, Rwanda, this evaluation sought to examine progress in the preparation, design and implementation of Rwanda’s Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRSP).

Ten years on from a devastating civil war and genocide, Rwanda ‘s progress as a nation has been remarkable. The present government came to power in 1994. Since then Rwanda’s leadership has been engaged in an extensive rebuilding of both the state and society involving the reconstruction of basic institutions and a return to security.

Nevertheless, major challenges remain. Poverty, which was rising well before 1994, remains high. Economic growth, is having only limited impact on real per capita incomes. The economy remains dominated by a largely subsistence based agricultural sector and human resource development and capacity challenges are severe.

To address these challenges, in 2002 the Rwandan Government prepared its first comprehensive Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRSP).

Aims and Objectives

The primary purpose of the evaluation was to undertake a full review of Rwanda’s first PRSP and related Annual Progress Reports with a view to identifying lessons arising from the impact and process of the PRSP.

Although the evaluation formally focused on the period of the PRSP preparation and implementation between 2000 to 2005, to understand the context it also covered the period going back to 1997 when the groundwork was laid for the Government’s transitional reform programme and Vision 2020.

A key aim of the evaluation was to assess the overall impact and implementation process of the PRSP. The scope of the PRSP together with major data shortfalls made it very difficult to derive any definitive measures of impact. Therefore the main focus of the evaluation was on identifying the logical processes through which resources used to deliver inputs and outputs as part of the PRSP could be inferred to have delivered positive results.


The evaluation applied the five standard evaluation criteria of the OECD/DAC (Organisation for Economic Co-operaton and Development, Development Assistance Committee) – relevance, efficiency, effectiveness, impact and sustainability.

A range of methods and information sources were used:

  • Document review and secondary data analysis
  • Focus groups, evaluation workshops and individual interviews with government, non-government and donor stakeholders
  • A stakeholder survey 
  • 2 ‘rapid’ field studies.

Four country visits were undertaken by team members between late September and mid December 2005.


The overall finding was that there had been clear and tangible efforts to operationalise the PRSP at the level of central government systems for planning and budgeting. The PRSP had underscored the importance of a more participatory approach to policymaking and, with some caveats, this had resulted in a more empowered, nationally led approach to policy formulation. However, the PRSP’s influence on the efficiency and effectiveness of public action for the poor had been limited, particularly at the level of sector agencies and sub-national levels.

Areas in which clear progress had been made (PFM, education) had been supported by the PRSP but had not been driven by it. While there was evidence of increased government leadership and ownership of the policy process, it remained unclear how much of this was about, or could be attributed to, the PRSP. The conclusion was that much of the momentum behind the PRSP which began in the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MINECOFIN) had largely stayed within MINECOFIN, and that a major challenge for the new Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRSP2) was to broaden this out to include a wider range of actors across government and beyond.

Empowerment policies had ensured an absence of repeat conflict and the beginnings of justice for the victims of genocide, nevertheless disconnects between aspects of the government’s political programme and the implementation of the PRSP had tended to keep the poverty agenda away from the important questions of equity and rights. The lack of a systematic focus on long term goals such as the MDGs had also limited the policy and political traction of the PRSP for delivering the country’s vision.

Development partners claimed that they were improving alignment with the PRSP, but in many crucial ways their practices and procedures were still largely at odds with one another and the principles of the PRSP and subsequent international commitments on aid effectiveness.


Building on the findings of the evaluation, the main recommendations in going forward to the PRSP2 were:

  • Consider using the PRSP2 as a vehicle for integrating Rwanda ‘s national political vision of unity and prosperity with the need to reduce poverty, enhance equity and provide broad based growth for all. Draw more clearly on the MDGs as a framework for setting long term poverty reduction goals. 
  • Ensure a clearer multi-sectoral focus on growth.
  • Align internal policy, planning and budgeting processes more effectively to support delivery of PRSP priorities and build a more consistent and effective focus on results across the government programme.
  • Strengthen sector prioritisation processes and the development of streamlined approaches to M&E.
  • Focus as much on quality of aid issues, as on the quantity of aid. Strengthen aid management capacity within government to streamline donor processes, supported by a set of aid principles to guide alignment and delivery behind the PRSP2. 
  • Develop clearer institutionalised mechanisms for regular consultation with Parliament and NGOs on the evolving policy framework and the implementation progress. Ensure a more popularised approach to PRSP2 dissemination and clearer targets for wider public debate and accountability.

Project details

start date
13 September 2005
end date
13 January 2006


About this project