From almost every point of view, Rwanda’s performance over the past decade has been an unambiguous success story.
Between 2001 and 2011, Rwanda’s economy grew by 8.2 percent per annum, earning the country a spot on the list of the ten fastest growing countries in the world. Poverty rates fell by 14 percentage points, effectively lifting more than one million Rwandans out of poverty. Social indicators followed the general trend: Net enrolment in primary school increased to almost 100 percent, completion rates tripled, and child mortality decreased more than threefold, hitting the mark oftwo-thirds reduction as targeted by the Millennium Development Goals.
Yet buried under all this good news lays another maybe even more important evolution. After a decade-and-a-half stall, total fertility rates in Rwanda dropped from 6.1 in 2005 to 4.6 in 2010. This means that during a period of five years, the average number of children a woman of childbearing age can expect to have, has declined by 1.5.