Green Gicumbi contribution to Rwanda’s climate action
By Justin Kayiranga
How Green Gicumbi project activities are contributing to Rwanda’s commitment to tackle climate change effects.
It’s been three years since the Green Gicumbi project started to be implemented in some sectors of Gicumbi district, in the Northern Province of Rwanda with a focus to strengthening climate resilience of rural communities by enhancing their adaptive capacity as well as reducing their exposure to climate risks.
After its inception, it appears that there are significant changes the project has put in place, including the fact that some of the problems that threatened the community wellbeing have been completely solved while others are in the process of being also addressed.
Apart from transforming community lives, this project has got other contribution aspects to which Rwanda has ratified and committed in climate change mitigation and adaptation.
Forest and Landscapes restoration
In 2011, Rwanda introduced a Green Growth and Climate Resilience Strategy to guide the country to become a developed, low carbon economy by 2050. Recognizing the importance of the country’s forests to this goal, the strategy features ‘Sustainable Forests and Agroforestry’ as one of 14 programs of action.
Referring to Green Gicumbi, the project targets to rehabilitate 1250Ha of degraded forests and so far, more than 1100Ha of forests have been already renewed with quality plants and 4801Ha have been covered with agroforestry trees. Furthermore 3.3 million of High quality seedlings were raised in time for the start of planting.
This achievement is contributing to Rwanda’s commitment to the Bonn Challenge and AFR100 initiative where the country has pledged to restore 2 million hectares of forests and landscapes by 2030, where Rwanda, in 2020, has achieved a restoration of 30.4% of the total commitment. This means that the numbers have increased as the Green Gicumbi Project started is activities in 2020.
The contribution is not only benefiting Rwanda’s climate action plan but also to forest owners whom the project assisted in restoration, and now they are commending the positive changes they are encountering thanks to the project.
Speaking to Top Africa News, Nyirandorimana Josephine, a resident of Kageyo sector, said that even though they were worried that the government is going to take away their properties (forests) in the beginning of the project, officials explained to them that it was not the case but to help them in the good management of their forests with soil erosion and landslide control that were affecting their forests.
Later, they started to notice how effective is the project.
She said “My forest is in a very high steep sloping place, so I planted trees but they couldn’t grow well because whenever it rained the erosion would take away the planted trees even though they were too small.”
“We couldn’t believe the motivation behind helping us in the good management of our forests but they came and established ditches in our forests, planted new tree varieties and I was delighted to see the way trees were growing faster thanks to the rehabilitation.”
Emission reduction at Mulindi Tea Factory
With Rwanda’s target to reduce 38% of the carbon emission by 2030, Green Gicumbi project activities will contribute to this commitment through sustainable energy use where they are helping the community in installing domestic biogas and distribution of clean cookstoves.
Among other activities, include the installation of one Tea dryer, one fuel wood hangar and 40 variable speed drives (VSD) installed at Mulindi Tea factory to contribute to both energy efficiency and reducing carbon emission.
Benjamin Yego, the Mulindi factory manager, attests that being a big consumer of firewood, the factory would use more firewood due to the lack of fuel wood hanger for drying trees but thanks to the project funding, they are now using less (dried) firewood while the factory productivity has also increased.
“When looking at the figures now, our savings on firewood use are about 17%, and we could produce 360 kilos of mate tea per one meter-cube of firewood but up to December 2022 we have improved that efficiency to 442 kilos per one meter-cube which means we are using less firewood.” Yego testified.
With the project interventions achieved so far, 5,746 of 70,195 tons of CO2 targeted have been reduced.
As climate change goes hand in hand with weather conditions, Green Gicumbi project has also put in place means to help all implicated parties to get updates about weather forecast.
Kagenza Jean Marie Vianney, the project coordinator, revealed that “The use of forecast data is very important in climate change, so far, we have established three smart weather stations that connect automatically to Rwanda Meteorology Agency. What we are currently working on is to establish the means for farmers to get weather updates that will assist them in agricultural planning.”
Currently, the activities of Green Gicumbi project are being implemented in 9 sectors of the Gicumbi district that fall within Muvumba B sub-catchment comprising around 252 villages and targeting 150,000 and 380,000 direct and indirect beneficiaries and so far, it created 23,000 green jobs of which 52% are women and 48% are men.