Many countries in sub-Saharan Africa are undergoing a major demographic transition, but Rwanda’s is unique for many reasons. It has simultaneously made very rapid improvements in life expectancy and total fertility as a result of significant investments in the health system and reductions in poverty.
This means that Rwanda’s potential ‘demographic dividend’ will provide opportunities in the near future, but the large growth in the number of older people will also provide challenges that will need to be addressed.Other structural shifts are occurring related to rapid urbanisation (and the associated migration and changes in household structures and familial support networks) and an expanding formal labour market.
All of these changes have implications for how the Government of Rwanda will support an aging population and a changing demographic population profile, especially in the area of social protection provision.
Rwanda’s social protection sector has evolved rapidly over the last decade, characterized by a high degree of government ownership. However, given the projections for a changing and aging population, there is a need to consider how the sector will respond over the coming 10-30 years.
In order to inform discussions of social protection policy options in the short-, medium-, and long-term, this study collected and analysed both quantitative and qualitative data on the experiences of older people in Rwanda, along with the wider literature and evidence base from the region and beyond. It also undertook a detailed policy simulation exercise to assess both the needs of older people and the impact of policy options.