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Although Rwanda is experiencing economic growth and is performing well on its MDG goals, extreme poverty still affects a good part of its population. According to the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) method, 1,050,135 people are severely poor and 2,818,321 moderately poor. The vast majority of them live in rural areas, which have both a higher number of poor people (about 3.7 million) and also a higher relative incidence of poverty (42%), compared to urban areas (15%). Western and Eastern provinces are found to be the poorest. However, in the Eastern part of the country agricultural productivity is higher than in other areas, resulting in better consumption, while infrastructure and services (electricity, clinics, schools, etc.) are less developed, and malaria (a big contributor to child mortality) has a disproportional effect.

Rwanda is often affected by natural disasters. From 7 to 9 May 2016, floods and landslides resulted in the loss of 50 lives, the destruction and tens of thousands of households affected in Gakenke, Muhanga and Ngororero districts, in the north and western parts of the country. The Government led relief operations while the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) released nearly US$ 4.3 million to meet the urgent needs of up to 50,000 most vulnerable affected people. Recovery efforts are also ongoing. 

Below normal rainfall often cause food insecurity, particularly in the drought-prone districts of Kayonza, Nyagatare and Kirehe. The poor 2016 Season B rains resulted in below-average harvests and scarcity of drinking water for livestock. The Government is leading response efforts, including through cash and food-for-work programmes. Overall, national food security is currently stressed (IPC phase 2). This situation could deteriorate if December 2016-January 2017 harvests are below average.

Rwanda is also affected by conflicts in the eastern DRC and Burundi. According to the Rwandan Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs, Rwanda currently hosts 163,000 mostly Congolese and Burundian refugees in six refugee camps and urban areas, with the largest camp, Mahama Refugee camp in Kirehe District, hosting 51, 000 Burundian refugees. Further, the unresolved armed conflict in eastern DRC and its regional impact continues to fuel political tensions among countries in the Great Lakes region, including between Rwanda and DRC. Potential electoral violence in DRC and the unsolved conflict in Burundi could also force more Congolese and Burundians to seek refuge in Rwanda and other countries in the Great Lakes region. In September 2016, the Emergency Relief Coordinator allocated US$5 million from CERF underfunded window to address the most critical gaps in the refugee response.