July 15, 2024

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IUCN Rwanda members showcase success stories at Africa Conservation Forum side event

At a side event of the IUCN Africa Conservation Forum in Kenya, IUCN Rwanda members gathered to share success stories in a session titled “Showcasing Rwanda’s Community-centric Restoration efforts in Agricultural Landscapes and Opportunities for World Agroforestry Congress 2025 hosted by the Government of Rwanda”.

During the event, attendees were encouraged to register for next year’s World Agroforestry Congress, which will be hosted by Rwanda. The panel discussion featured Dr. Deo RUHAGAZI from Rwanda Wildlife Conservation Association (RWCA), Oscar NZABONIMPA from Action pour la Protection de l’Environnement et la Promotion des Filières Agricoles (APEFA), and Aloys NSABIMANA from Association Rwandaise des Ecologistes (ARECO Rwanda).

The session highlighted the importance of community involvement in restoration efforts in agricultural landscapes and showcased the successful initiatives undertaken in Rwanda. The speakers emphasized the need for sustainable practices and conservation efforts to protect the environment and promote biodiversity.

The event served as a platform for sharing knowledge and best practices in conservation and restoration efforts, while also promoting the upcoming World Agroforestry Congress in Rwanda.

This World Congress will take place in May, 19-23, 2025 at Kigali Convention Centre, bringing together more than 1,500 researchers, policymakers, practitioners, private sector, farmers, students, civil society organizations and NGOs.

According to the information from the organizing team, the main theme is “Agroforestry for People, Planet and Profit (AF for Triple Ps). The participants will discuss on the contribution of agroforestry in a changing climate, Agroforestry for improved livelihoods and food system, multifunctional sustainable landscape, silvopastoral systems, etc.

Rwanda has competed with other countries around the world to host the World Agroforestry Congress like Australia, and managed to overpass due to the success stories in this sector that impacted the community of Rwandans in getting the source of energy, trees, biomass energy, improvement of land health, livelihoods and poverty reduction.

This was achieved through the community-centric restoration approach in Agriculture Landscapes as IUCN members in Rwanda have highlighted.

“The way we have been chosen is that our planning should be based on the needs of the communities. We meet with people, discuss with them, thereafter, in designing projects we rely on their priorities”, Mr. Oscar Nzabonimpa, Executive Director, APEFA (Action Pour la Protection de l’Environnement et la Promotion des Filières Agricoles), said.  

“In this context, we have a project to deal with climate change using solar power irrigation systems. There are other ways we use to capture rainwater and help the communities we are working with to collect it and use it in agriculture during the dry season.”

Furthermore, they train people to apply agroforestry because it is one of the things that can answer the problems we have in agriculture in Rwanda, Mr. Nzabonima went on explaining.

“We have a small arable area and 75% of the population depends on agriculture which should be done in an environmentally friendly way. These trees resist erosion and increase soil productivity”, he added.

He hopes the World Agroforestry to be hosted by Rwanda will be productive in terms of making the importance of agroforestry better understood and strengthened. He calls upon members of IUCN to register for it as the country is visa free and is experienced enough to host international meetings.

The services provided at APEFA include environmental education and awareness, forest landscape restoration, climate change adaptation and mitigation, climate smart and conservation agriculture, integrated water resources management, among others.

RWCA, another member of IUCN in Rwanda, has been involved in habitat restoration; citizen sciences on crested cranes, bats, statunga antelopes; environment education that take place at Umusambi Village; community livelihoods, etc.

“Whenever we start a project, the communities participate in it and we give them skills. People have knowledge about how they used to do certain things. That knowledge is what we update and we are witnessing a positive impact in terms of ownership”, he said.

Mr. Aloys Nsabimana, who was representing ARECO Rwanda, said they use a participatory approach in order to involve other stakeholders in all processes of its interventions especially projects implemented on the ground.

In this regard, communities are not only beneficiaries but also implementers of field interventions based on their needs and perspectives.

The Association Rwandaise des Ecologistes, ARECO’ is an environmental and development organization founded in 1991 by people concerned with environment degradation in Rwanda characterized by soil erosion, deforestation, climate change, water and air pollution.

Mr. Oscar Nzabonimpa (from Left), ED APEFA; Deo Ruhagazi( RWCA) and Aloys Nsabimana (ARECO) during a ACF side event in Nairobi, Kenya
Some of the participants of the IUCN Africa Conservation Forum 2024
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