Since 2009, nine least developed countries (LDCs) including Rwanda have announced plans or strategies incorporating elements of both low-carbon development and resilience to climate change. Low-carbon development is an approach that focuses on reducing greenhouse gas emissions through the development process. In the case of Rwanda, resilience to climate change must be a priority.

Being dependent on rain-fed agriculture, Rwanda’s economy and people’s livelihoods are vulnerable to climate variability and climate change. Agriculture, biodiversity, water resources are more likely to be affected.

David Matabaro, a cassava farmer in Musamo Cell, Ruhango Sector in Ruhango District located in the Southern province, gives testimony: “Things changed dangerously from last years. While we grew cassava we got good production which helped to feed our families and gain extra money for saving. Nowadays, due to climate variability the cassava has been affected by Kabore (A vernacular name given to Cassava brown streak Disease), and we are counting huge loss of production every year which some time attend 100% of our expected yield per hectare”.

A group of tea pluckers make their way across a hillside on the Kitabe tea estate to a weighing station. Tea production in Rwanda. Picture by Tim Smith.

Rwanda embarked to a green economy

Bernadette Mujawamariya is a banana farmer located in Gasharu Cell, Rongi Sector, Muhanga District in South Province congratulates the effort of Rwanda government through diverse decentralized interventions which target the rural peasants in order to help them being resilient to climate change effects. Standing up in her improved banana multiplication sites benefited through the Congo Nile ridge foothills integrated environmental management project funded by Rwanda‘s Green Fund (FONERWA), she testifies: “Before FONERWA gave us improved banana seeds, the indigenous ones were affected by Kirabiranya (A vernacular name given to Banana Xanthomonas Wilt), and thanks to acquired improved banana varieties, we shall gain ten times our previous production which help us to feed our families and be able to pay school fees and health mutual insurance for our children.”

Besides, different policies have been adopted. Rwanda adopted the National Forestry Policy. Its overall mission is to make forestry one of the bedrocks of economy and national ecological balance for sustainable benefits to all segments of the society. It has also adopted other policies which need to be enforced. The National Land Policy has the overall objective of establishing a land system that is secure for all Rwandans, land reforms that are necessary for good management and proper use of National land resources for a harmonious and sustainable development that ensures protection of the Environment.

The National Environment Policy premised on the principles of sustainable growth, participation, decentralization, intergenerational equity and fairness, emphasis on prevention, polluter pays, and recognition of regional and international environmental inter-connectedness.

Farmers in Rwanda’s Ngororero district prepare their field for the new planting season. Ngororero is one of four districts in Rwanda set to benefit from a new climate services for agriculture project in 2016. Photo: V. Atakos (CCAFS)

The Integrated Water Resources Policy seeks to manage and develop the water resources of Rwanda in an integrated and sustainable manner, so as to secure and provide water of adequate quantity and quality for all social and economic needs of the present and future generations, and ensure full participation of all stakeholders in decisions affecting water resources management.

The Mining Policy covers wider aspects of regulation, institutional and investment framework for the mining industry, value addition and capacity building strategies as well as providing a clear plan of action to support the sub sector’s growth.

The national Agricultural Policy which focuses on transforming the agricultural sector from a predominantly smallholder subsistence based to commercial-oriented sector that emphasizes high value nontraditional crops and technology-intensive land use.

Rwanda also adopted and pursues the national Health Policy 2005 which seeks to eliminate malaria and AIDS the two major health problems in Rwanda with significant socioeconomic impacts but it also has elaborated an Environmental Health Policy which is an important recognition of the environment-health links. We note also the urbanization and Human Settlements Policy which has been adopted in the wake of increased land scarcity, and driven by the need to optimize productive land use. Rwanda also adopted the National Biodiversity Policy which seeks to address the following issues: improved management of protected areas, conservation of biodiversity outside protected areas, access to genetic resources and benefits sharing, agro-biodiversity, bio-prospecting and biodiversity business, and biodiversity knowledge management including research and indigenous knowledge.

Farmers in Rwanda’s Ngororero district prepare their field for the new planting season. Ngororero is one of four districts in Rwanda set to benefit from a new climate services for agriculture project in 2016. Photo: V. Atakos (CCAFS)

Furthermore, Rwanda is actively involved in trans-boundary cooperation frameworks with significant implications such as Africa Land Policy Framework and Guidelines (ALPFG), environment and Climate Change International Conventions and -Regional Frameworks, International Cooperation and Regional Integration and International Dialogue and Declaration on Sustainable Water Resources Management.

However, the country needs to pursue a green economy approach to economic transformation which favors the development of sustainable cities and villages. A vision for 2050 based on the Green Growth and Climate Resilience Strategy envisages Rwanda as a developed climate-resilient, low carbon economy, with a strong services sector, low unemployment and low levels of poverty.

Rwanda envisages being a country where agriculture and industry have a minimal negative impact on the environment, operating in a sustainable way, and enabling self-sufficient basic necessities for all living in it.

By 2050, development will be achieved with low carbon domestic energy resources and practices, reducing the country’s contribution to climate change while allowing it to be independent of imported oil for power generation. Finally, Rwanda will have the robust local and regional knowledge to be able to respond and adapt to changes in the climate and the resulting impacts.

Rwanda’s Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) is built upon its National Strategy for Climate Change and Low Carbon Development Strategy. The full implementation of this strategy rests upon five enabling pillars: Institutional Arrangements; Finance; Capacity Building and Knowledge Management; Technology, Innovation and Infrastructure; and Integrated Planning and Data Management.

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Originally published in Bwiza.com

Pamphile Bakundukize

About Pamphile Bakundukize

BAKUNDUKIZE Pamphile (MSC) is agriculture and applied economics Engineer and a head of department of development at CARITAS DIOCESE KABGAYI in Rwanda the country of thousand hills located in East Africa.