Annual Forum Papers

Genocide and Land Scarcity: Can Rwandan Rural Households Manage?

  • Year: 2004
  • Author(s): Marijke Verpoorten; Lode Berlage

During the nineties Rwandan households faced severe shocks of war and genocide. In addition, the structural problem of land scarcity remains unsolved. How did Rwandan households manage? This is an important question from a development perspective, but also from a security perspective, because uneven development raises the risk of renewed conflict. To find an answer, we study welfare gains and losses in a sample of 189 rural households in two Rwandan provinces over the period 1990-2002. In our sample, many households were severely affected by the genocide. In addition, poverty and inequality increased. Moreover, we observe a lot of income mobility. Only one quarter of the households remained in the same income quintile over time. Especially the households headed by widows and prisoner's wives moved downward in the income distribution. Households who reduced their dependence on subsistence agriculture moved upward.