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Rwanda: Environment Minister warns the country’s surface will not remain the same unless actions are taken to deal with riverbanks flooding

By Kanamugire Emmanuel

Rwanda’s Minister of Environment, Dr. Jeanne d’Arc Mujawamariya has said that long term planning in protecting the riverbanks is needed to adapt to the impacts of climate change including floods that wash away the fertile land.

She made the remarks while in Nyagatare District on November 28, 2020, during the official launch of the new project entitled National Adaptation Planning Process (NAP) which aims at increasing the capacity of the government, private sector and communities to plan, fund, implement and monitor climate change adaptation across the country.

The Saturday launch consists of planting bamboo along the Umuvumba River as part of riverbank protection efforts.

The exercise is part of preventing local residents from conduct their farming activities beyond the river buffer zone.

“As you can see, people farm along the Umuvumba River banks. Through project launch today, planting bamboo aims to conserve and protect this river bank.” Minister Mujawamariya explains.

“Unless we take serious actions, in the future we will not be counting the surface area of Rwanda as 28,336 square kilometers as there is a piece of land that is being washed away by the river” She adds.

Mujawamariya noted that: “We have small land; we have to maintain it. That is why we urge the people to be vigilant and take care of these planted bamboos so that they grow quickly and help to avoid floods again. The way this river looks shows it contains the soil and it shouldn’t.”

This National project will increase access to up-to-date climate information, including climate projections and risk assessments.

It will integrate climate change adaptation into sectoral development planning and budgeting processes, mobilize funds for adaptation and undertake long-term research on adaptation interventions among others.

Juliet Kabera, Director General, Rwanda Environment Management Authority, said NAP project will ensure Rwanda is more resilient to floods, drought and other dangers by developing clear policies and strategies that protect people, property and our environment

“Rwanda is highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, and we are already experiencing the devastating impacts of extreme weather events. This ambitious project will support a government-wide planning approach for adapting to climate change. It will ensure Rwanda is more resilient to floods, drought and other dangers by developing clear policies and strategies that protect people, property and our environment,” said Juliet Kabera, Director General, Rwanda Environment Management Authority.

The communities’ expectations from the project interventions

The three main components of the project include technical and institutional capacity building for the National Adaptation Planning Process, advancing climate-resilient technologies and practices as well as monitoring, reviewing and knowledge sharing.

Under this project, a number of ecosystem-based adaptation interventions will also be carried out.

This includes agroforestry, intercropping and the stabilizing of plantation verges with vegetation at the Shagasha Tea Estate in Rusizi District.

The demarcation of a buffer zone on the banks of the Umuvumba River in Nyagatare District will be done through the restoration of riparian vegetation and the reforestation of upstream catchment areas along with silvo-pastoralism to strengthen livestock production and increase forest coverage.

“Each season the Umuvumba River carries a part of my land which is why it is gradually becoming smaller. This project is going to help us restore and preserve the riverbanks to solve existing problems”, said Kassim Siborurema, a resident of Cyembogo Cell, Matimba Sector, Nyagatare District.

Kassim Siborurema, a resident of Cyembogo Cell, Matimba Sector, Nyagatare District said his land alongside Umuvumba River is gradually becoming smaller due to flooding
Umuvumba riverbanks is going to be protected through bamboo planting on it

Agroforestry alongside Ibanda-Makera Natural Forest in Kirehe District will also be carried out using drought resistant tree species to reduce soil erosion.

Bibutsuhoze Vedaste, of Mpanga Sector, Kirehe District praises the project interventions saying that agroforest trees to be planted there are important for soil fertility, livestock grazing among others.

“National planning processes can deliver results on the ground, with strong leadership, country ownership, links with existing initiatives and new priorities, and alignment with the country’s development objectives. As we plant seedlings today and continue to care for them and grow them, I hope this will inspire us to work together with community spirit, in using nature based solutions to adapt to climate change,” said Jessica Troni, Senior Programme Manager and Adaptation Portfolio Manager, United Nations Environment Programme.

The six-million-dollar National Adaptation Planning Process project is being implemented by the Rwanda Environment Management Authority and is funded by the Global Environment Facility.

In Nyagatare the activities will be carried out on an area of 300 hectares, according to Fabrice Mugabo, NAP project Sector Specialist.

The project’s additional partners include the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the Ministry of Environment, Rwanda Forestry Authority (RFA) and the districts of Kirehe, Nyagatare and Rusizi.

Ibanda-Makera Natural Forest located in Mpanga Sector, Kirehe District will be restored using drought resistant tree species to reduce soil erosion
Beekeeping cooperatives alongside Ibanda-Makera Natural Forest are to be supported as part of NAP project activities
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