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VSO/Tim Maynard


In Rwanda, as a result of VSO programmes, the number of women in leadership positions increased from 65 to 83 and the number of people with disabilities in leadership positions increased from 58 to 73. The 29 cooperatives supported by us increased their yield saving from 2,675,500 Rwandan franc (RWF) (around £2,700) to 22,470,000 RWF (around £23,000) in total. 

Quality education for all

Teacher and little girl ©VSO/Mussa Uwitonze

Alice Isingizwe, 8, is deaf, with her teacher Alphonsine Musabyemariya from Ngwino Nawe, the village for disabled children in Nyamasheke. VSO is supporting the school with expert volunteers to improve the quality of education.

Nearly all Rwandan children are enrolled in primary school, but the quality of much of this education is a cause for concern. Children are leaving school without a decent level of literacy and numeracy. There are also high rates of repetition, especially the first year of primary, which is repeated by 70% of children.

The government of Rwanda introduced early childhood education (ECE) in 2013 to combat some of these issues. However, most teachers are unqualified and struggling with a lack of resources.

VSO Rwanda is supporting the Ministry of Education to improve the quality of primary and pre-primary education by working in schools and with established teacher training colleges in the country to build teachers’ ability to use learner-centred teaching methodologies to improve the quality of learning, even in very low-resource settings.

Recent results

  • 250,000+ children were reached through improved learner-centred teaching
  • Trained 4,000+ in-service teachers, 7,000 trainee teachers to improve their skills and knowledge
  • Supported 371 schools to prepare development plans, with training for their head teachers


Social inclusion and governance

Rwanda National Paralympic Committee member playing seated volleyball ©VSO/Ben Langdon

Jean Paul Ngilimana, a member of the National Paralympic Committee. This group has been supported by VSO since VSO first started work in Rwanda.

Between 5-15% of Rwandans are estimated to live with a disability. This group is more likely to be uneducated and live in poverty. Around a quarter of people in households headed by a person with disability live on less than 241 RWF (24p) per day, and there are still gaps in accessing healthcare and education.

VSO has been instrumental in achieving improved disability rights over the past 10 years. We have informed policy changes and played a key role in the formation of groups to represent people with disabilities at the national level. We look at social inclusion in all our projects from education, to livelihoods and beyond.

Recent results:

  • 1,000+ local authority staff supported to mainstream disability in services they provide
  • Trained 2,357 people with disability to know their rights and awareness of services
  • 700 children with disabilities displayed improved ability in schools supported by VSO


Beekeepers in Rwanda | VSO ©VSO/Peter Caton

Members of a beekeeping co-operative in Shori village, including women and people with disability, who have been supported by VSO volunteers to increase their production and incomes. 

Officially, 40% of Rwandans are living in poverty, and eight in ten people live on less than 727 RWF (72p) per day. Most people are engaged in small-scale agriculture, often for subsistence rather than profit. Four in ten people are aged under 30, with a graduate unemployment rate of 13% pointing to the challenge of finding jobs for this growing youth population.

VSO has been supporting the most vulnerable, including people with disabilities, people living with HIV, orphans of genocide and unemployed young people to boost their income-generating potential by forming co-operatives. We provide technical and business training to boost skills and earnings.

Recent results:

  • Around 4,000 people benefited from a family member supported as part of a co-operative
  • 55 co-operatives across seven districts supported in total

Maternal, child and youth health

Child malnutrition is a pressing issue across Rwanda and has been prioritised by the Government. The most recent statistics suggest that around four in ten children under five has stunted growth, posing serious risks to development and learning. Young people are less likely to access health services and so are more at risk of poor sexual reproductive health.

VSO’s health programme is being established in order to improve child and youth health across Rwanda.

What makes VSO different?

VSO is a leading development partner that has been reducing poverty and inequality in Rwanda through the lasting power of volunteering, since 1998.

We have a strong track record of working closely with the government to deliver improved services and capacity, with a specific focus on reaching the most vulnerable and marginalised groups in society: children, youth, women and people with disabilities. We are committed to supporting Rwanda to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals and Vision 2020, a national plan for transitioning to a zero-poverty, middle income, knowledge-based society.

Our volunteering for development approach brings together the best international expertise with the contributions of committed and dedicated Rwandans to build capacity, boost collaboration, increase participation and extend the reach of services to the poorest and most marginalised.

Working with VSO from the very start of our organisation has been crucial. Our partnership is the foundation of all the good models that we are practicing today.

Louis Ngabonziza, Director, Nyabihu Deaf School

Our partners

Our valued funding partners include UNICEF, DFID and USAID.

We have strong relationships with ministries including the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Local Government.

Other valued implementing partners and allies include the National Union of Disability Organisations in Rwanda (NUDOR), teacher training colleges and cooperative associations.

In 2015/16, our support led to demonstrable improvements in our partners’ capacity and service delivery including in enhanced:

  • Inclusion
  • Planning processes
  • Data collection
  • Continual professional development
  • Income generation

    Volunteering for Development programme

    The Volunteering for Development programme, funded by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) works to improve quality and access to health and education services as well as livelihood opportunities for the most poor and vulnerable.

    The grant recognises VSO's extensive experience of putting volunteers in the right places to tackle poverty and inequality. Find out more


Contact us

Papa Diouf, Country Director, Rwanda

VSO Rwanda country director Papa Diouf

Country director: Papa Diouf
Head of programmes: Michael Opio
Education advisers: Ruth Mbabazi and Damien Gregory
Governance and inclusion adviser: Sarah Challoner
Livelihoods adviser: Philbert Hakizimana
Health adviser: Sophia Mutoni

Considering partnering with us?

We would very much like to hear from you. Please reach out to:

  • Papa Diouf, country director, VSO Rwanda
  • Tel: +250 788 301 772
  • Skype: papadiouf1303


VSO Rwanda 
P.O. Box 4599
KG 625 Street, House N 12
Kimihurura Sector
Imihigo Village
Gasabo District

Interested in volunteering?

We urgently need committed and experienced professionals to help deliver transformational change in Rwanda.

volunteer in Rwanda

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