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Belgium and Rwanda have been partners in development cooperation since 1962. Over the decades, this collaboration has evolved considerably. Today, this cooperation runs through various channels.
Bilateral governmental cooperation is the main component. In direct cooperation with the Rwandan government, we focus on health, agriculture, urban development and social protection. Together with the Rwandan partners, we put a strong focus on good governance and gender.
The Belgian government also supports the Rwandan civil society. We focus on strengthening the Rwandan civil society through cooperation between Belgian and Rwandan non-governmental organisations or through specific thematic funding. University cooperation is also very strong.
Furthermore, as a strong supporter of multilateral cooperation, we support various UN institutions operating in Rwanda. We are committed to humanitarian aid through the UN system and non-governmental actors. Finally, we also actively contribute to the European development cooperation through the European institutions and joint “Team Europe Initiatives”.
These various channels combined, Belgium contributed around EUR 50 million of official development assistance in Rwanda in 2020-2021. According to the OECD-DAC, this makes our country the 5th bilateral donor to Rwanda.
If you want to know more, be sure to follow our newsletter on Belgian-Rwandan development cooperation.
Bilateral governmental cooperation
The bilateral governmental cooperation is based on five-year cooperation agreements between the Belgian and Rwandan governments. In these agreements we lay down the objectives, modalities and the budget. Two cooperation agreements are currently being implemented.
The classic cooperation programme focuses on health care, agriculture, sustainable urban planning and public finance management. In these different sectors, we focus on gender, private sector development and good governance. The programme runs from 2019 to 2024 and has a budget of EUR 120 million.
A second thematic cooperation programme focuses on the creation of decent work and the strengthening of social protection. This programme runs from 2022 to 2026 and has a budget of EUR 17.6 million. The programme is part of a regional programme that is also active in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda, with a total budget of EUR 50 million.
Enabel, the Belgian development agency, is responsible for the implementation of these cooperation agreements. It does so in close partnership with various Rwandan ministries, government agencies and civil society organisations. In addition to the Belgian bilateral governmental cooperation, Enabel also carries out various projects for other like-minded development partners, such as the European Union.
Supporting civil society
Belgium has a rich civil society, with many non-governmental organisations and institutional actors committed to international solidarity and cooperation. These organisations include the traditional development NGOs, but also Belgian associations of education, trade unions, associations of cities and municipalities, etc.
The Belgian government finances partnerships between Belgian non-governmental organisations and their Rwandan partners. These programmes cover a wide variety of domains, ranging from health and education, to good governance, to sustainable food systems. In total, there are 19 5-year programmes running from 2022 to 2027 for a total budget of EUR 25 million. Synergies and mutual learning paths between these programmes are promoted within a common strategic framework, established by the organisations involved, and annual strategic dialogues.
For an overview of these programs and organizations, click here (PDF, 109.7 KB).
In addition, depending on the priorities of the Belgian Minister of Development Cooperation, it is sometimes decided to fund ad hoc projects in support of civil society. Belgium is currently funding two projects of the international non-governmental organisation Aegis Trust, one on positive masculinities and the other on peace education.
Finally, there are also numerous exchanges and partnerships that are not directly supported by the Belgian government. These so-called "4th pillar projects" testify to the strength of the interpersonal relations between Belgium and Rwanda.
University cooperation and scholarships
There is a long tradition of exchange and cooperation between Belgian and Rwandan higher education institutions.
The Belgian government finances several of these partnerships through the Flemish Interuniversity Council (VLIR-UOS) and the Walloon Académie de Recherche et d'Enseignement Supérieur (ARES). These projects are situated in various fields. Most of them focus on the health sector, yet other areas as diverse as disaster preparedness and beer brewery are also addressed. For an overview of the current projects, click here (PDF, 51.91 KB).
The Institute of Tropical Medicine in Antwerp is also developing a programme aimed at strengthening the country’s capacity to combat infectious diseases.
In addition to these projects that receive funding from the federal government, there is a multitude of smaller and larger partnerships, funded from various other sources.
Exchanges of and between students, teachers and researchers form the basis of these partnerships. Every year, Belgian students come to Rwanda for an internship as part of their education. Equally, every year Rwandans go to Belgium to follow a master's or doctoral programme at one of the Belgian higher education institutions. The Belgian government offers scholarships for this. For more info, see:
- VLIR-UOS: Scholarships | Vliruos
- ARES: Fellowships/Development Cooperation / ARES (ares-ac.be)
- ITM: https://www.itg.be/E/scholarships
More information on studying in Belgium: Studying in Belgium | FPS Foreign Affairs - Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation
Belgium is a strong supporter of multilateral cooperation. In order to provide the multilateral organisations with the necessary means to fulfil their mandates, Belgium consciously opts for voluntary core funding of their general operations. Belgium is a #PartnerAtCore of FAO, OHCHR, WHO, IOM, UNDP, UN Women, UNAIDS, UNFPA, UNICEF, UNEP, CGIAR, EITI, IMF, EGPS, GFATM and GPE.
In order to place specific emphasis on Belgian priorities, Belgium is currently also funding two earmarked multilateral projects in Rwanda. UNDP Rwanda is implementing the project "Strenghtening business opportunities for youth, women and people with disabilities in 8 districts of Rwanda" (2022-2023, EUR 2 million). In addition, we support the International Labour Organization (ILO) for their regional programme "Building social protection floors for all" (2022-2025, EUR 3 million), which focuses on Burundi, the DR Congo and Rwanda. Finally, Belgium also finances a number of posts for ‘junior professional officers’ (JPO) within the UN institutions in Rwanda.
Through flexible funding, Belgium wants to give humanitarian actors the means to respond quickly to humanitarian emergencies.
Belgium provides voluntary core funding for the general functioning of international humanitarian organisations and supports flexible funds such as the ICRC, WFP (incl. IRA), UNHCR, UNRWA, FAO (incl. SFERA), OCHA (incl. CERF and CBPFs), FICR (incl. DREF), ALNAP and TNH. Through these organisations and funds, Belgium contributes to the humanitarian response in Rwanda.
In addition, Belgium also finances humanitarian projects in Rwanda of various Belgian non-governmental organisations. Currently (2022-2023) there are projects of Red Cross Flanders (RKV), Croix Rouge de Belgique (CRB) and Plan International Belgium.
The institutions of the European Union are among Rwanda's main development partners. In 2020-2021, they spent more than EUR 60 million on official development assistance in Rwanda (OECD), mostly through the Neighborhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI). As a member of the European Union, Belgium contributes to this budget.
For several years now, the European institutions and the European member states have been strengthening their cooperation in the field of development cooperation under the banner of the Team Europe Initiatives (TEI). The two national TEIs in Rwanda are committed to transformation in the agricultural sector and sustainable urbanism. In addition, the EU and the member states in Rwanda are also very active in the framework of a continental TEI on manufacturing and access to vaccines, medicines and health technologies in Africa (MAV+).
Belgium actively contributes to these TEIs through the bilateral governmental cooperation. In addition, the Belgian development agency Enabel also carries out different projects financed by the other European partners within the framework of these TEIs.