The Financial Times contacted the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda (NISR) for clarification about poverty trends in Rwanda ahead of their article published on Tuesday, 13 August 2019. Below are our responses to the questions asked:
The claim that poverty in Rwanda increased between 2011 and 2014 is wrong.
More importantly, we do not use a single deflator. In line with global best practice, comparison is actually accomplished (both within the survey period and between periods) using a Cost of Living Index (COLI) based on a ‘basket’ of food and non-food items. The COLI adjusts household consumption for each household, for each of the 12 months of the survey, in each of Rwanda’s five provinces. It also adjusts the weights for actual consumption patterns and product availability in each province.
As a result, comparisons between Rwanda’s monthly Consumer Price Index (CPI) and EICV are not necessarily meaningful, much less relevant for assessing the accuracy of EICV. CPI and EICV are separate analytical products designed for distinct purposes. Both CPI and EICV rely on price data from Rwanda’s Price Statistics System, whose coverage was extended to rural areas in 2009.
Rwanda’s performance in poverty reduction, as recorded by EICV surveys since 2001, is unequivocally real. The positive trend is also corroborated by other important measures of progress during the same period, such as Rwanda’s Demographic and Health Survey (DHS), the MDGs, growing financial inclusion at all levels of society (FinScope 2016), or the dramatic expansion of tax receipts. None of that would have been possible if poverty had actually been rising, as alleged.
Open Data Watch ranks Rwanda (together with Mauritius and Morocco) as Africa’s most effective and open statistical organization, and 36th in the world. The ability to engage constructively with Rwanda’s statistics is premised on our high degree of openness and transparency, and this will continue to be our practice.
National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda