Rebuilding the Civil Service After War: Rwanda After the Genocide, 1998-2009

After the 1994 genocide, Rwanda’s government ministries, desperate for staff, went on a hiring spree. By 1998, the civil service had grown, but it consumed too much of the country’s limited revenues and lacked many of the critical skills essential for effective service delivery. Between 1998 and 2009, the Rwandan Ministry of Public Service and Labor led reforms that slashed the number of staff in central ministries by about 90%, tripled salaries for those who remained and decentralized basic service-delivery functions. Personnel cuts occurred in two major waves, one in 1999 and another in 2006. In 2006, the Ministry of Local Government rehired some civil servants fired under these reforms to staff district administrations. Those local governments began to deliver services, ranging from the issue of passports to road construction, that the government had earlier directed from Kigali, Rwanda’s capital. Following retrenchment and decentralization, the government set up a Public Service Commission in 2007 to standardize and oversee recruitment throughout the civil service. Results of the reforms were ambiguous. In early 2010, civil servants reported that the changes had improved overall staff quality but that ministries had too few people to carry out essential functions. They also said decentralization had improved service delivery in some cases but had overtaxed local administrations in others. There was some agreement, however, that the Public Service Commission recruitment system was effectively based on merit. 

David Hausman drafted this case study on the basis of interviews conducted in Kigali, Rwanda, in March 2010. Case published in July 2011.  Two separate cases, “The Promise of Imihigo: Decentralized Service Delivery in Rwanda, 2006-2010” and Government Through Mobilization: Restoring Order After Rwanda’s 1994 Genocide," provide additional insight into the processes of restoring and restructuring governance in insecure areas.

Associated Interview(s):  Angelina Muganza, Protais Musoni

service delivery
public service delivery
Focus Area(s)
Civil Service
Critical Tasks
Civil service recruitment
Extending services to insecure or remote areas
Job descriptions
Payroll delivery
Performance management system
Ranks and grades
Salary structure reform
Sequencing reform
Core Challenge
Capacity (capability traps)
Country of Reform
Case Studies
David Hausman