June 17, 2024

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Minister of Environment Emphasizes Importance of Terraces for Erosion Control and Biodiversity Boosting

The Ministry of Environment, the Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA) and other agencies, on May 25, collaborated with the community of Karongi, Nyamagabe, and Ruhango districts in the community work (Umuganda) that kicked off the National Environment Week, which will be marked by various activities aimed at raising awareness on environmental protection and sustainability.

The National Environment Week will conclude on World Environmental Day, June 5th.

This year, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) presented the theme “Land restoration, desertification, and drought resilience” to reflect on the urgent need to combat land degradation and desertification, which is a good opportunity to build upon the success made in environmental management in Rwanda and think of future management measures.

Read also: IUCN Rwanda joins the Ministry of Environment to launch the National Environment Week

Residents of Ruhango, Nyamagabe, and Karongi Districts, in collaboration with various organizations, have constructed terraces on approximately 10 hectares of land at the Nyabikono site where the three districts intersect. This initiative aims to promote land management, sustainable agriculture, and environmental conservation.

During her speech, Rwanda’ Minister of Environment Dr. Jeanne d’Arc Mujawamariya emphasized the benefits of terraces in erosion control, water management, sustainable farming, and biodiversity enhancement. She stated, “Land degradation is a result of various factors such as unsustainable agriculture, deforestation, and mining. Collaborations are essential to rehabilitate damaged land by preventing soil erosion and restoring degraded ecosystems.”

Furthermore, she highlighted that restoring degraded land not only improves food security, helps combat climate change, but also creates employment opportunities. Minister Mujawamariya commended the community efforts in constructing and maintaining terraces at the confluence of the Mwogo and Mbirurume rivers, which form the Nyabarongo tributary that feeds into the Nile, one of the world’s longest rivers.

She warned about the consequences of land degradation, stating, “When land is degraded, there is increased drought, often exacerbated by climate change, leading to desertification.”

She concluded by encouraging all stakeholders, especially financial institutions, environmental organizations, cooperatives, and Rwandans in general, to invest in the restoration and efficient use of land and wetlands, rivers, lakes, and forest conservation because the state alone can’t help make it possible.

Yves Mushimiyimana, a resident of Nyamagabe district, mentioned that the area has been facing issues with water flowing down and causing erosion in the fields. However, there is now hope for a positive change due to the community work that has been carried out. He stated, “The community work being done will help in reducing erosion. The Nyabarongo river used to flood and carry away our crops, homes, and even people, including children. We are grateful to those who have come to assist us in building terraces.”

From 1956 to 1996, Rwanda lost 65% of its forest area. However, in the last 30 years Rwanda has achieved the goal of planting forests on 30.4% of the country’s area.

Since 2010, Rwanda has been able to restore more than 708,628 hectares of damaged ecosystems (soil, forests, and wetlands) through more than 44 projects of the Ministry of Environment and its affiliated agencies (Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA), Rwanda Green Fund (RGF), Rwanda Forestry Authority (RFA), Meteo-Rwanda, and National Land Authority (NLA)).

The goal that Rwanda has given to the ‘Bonn Challenge is that by the year 2030, it will have restored the damaged land and forests in an area of two million hectares (which is equivalent to 76% of the area of the country).

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