The New Times (Kigali)

13 August 2014

Rwanda: New Project Seeks to Mitigate Effects of Climate Change

Women, youth and other vulnerable groups are set to benefit from a newly proposed project that seeks to address challenges caused by climate change in the country.

Gender Climate Change and Agriculture Support Programme (GCCASP) will focus on empowering women, especially those involved in agriculture, by putting in place early warning mechanisms to mitigate climate effects.

The five-year project is spearheaded by the New Partnership for Africa's Development (Nepad), established to fight poverty in Africa. It will be financed by Norwegian government. The budget is yet to be drawn.

Speaking at a meeting to consider the project, Edna Kalima, the GCCASP communications expert noted that climate change in Africa had mostly impacted women.

"We will be looking at how to empower women, especially those in rural areas, by providing training on weather changes, access to market and doing advocacy in various areas," she said.

She said the project is in response to a survey which indicated that Rwandan women in agriculture are still facing various challenges including lack of information on how to deal with climate change, limited access to market as well as limited land.

Climate change in Rwanda has impacted the economic development of the country by leading to heavy rains that cause loss of lives, destruction of infrastructure like roads, erosion of farms and other negative consequences.

Latest statistics from the Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs, indicate that about 112 people died due to effects of climate change such as landslides, floods and lightning, last year.

In the same year, 3,934 houses were demolished mostly by heavy rains, floods and landslides. Over 2,201 hectares of land were also devastated by the same disasters in various parts of the country.

In the meeting, Cesalie Kantarama, a vegetable farmer said her production capacity had decreased.

"Climate change will continue affecting us unless new mechanisms are put in place. I had planted several hectares of cassava and vegetables this season but due to prolonged drought, the money I expect may not even cover the cost of production," she said.

Dr Rose Mukankomeje, the director general of Rwanda Environment Management Authority, said the consequences of major floods are enormous.

The estimated total loss of the 2012 wet season flooding in the country is Rwf58.3bn which represented about 1.4 per cent of the overall GDP of 2011/2012.

"Climate change in Rwanda will continue to undermine our economic growth. We need to strengthen collaboration to curb this challenge," she said.

In a presentation, Dr Mukankomeje estimated that medium-term costs to address future climate change will range between $50 million and $300 million per year by 2030.

However, a national policy and strategic framework has been developed to address the consequences of climate change.

The strategy seeks to achieve the energy security and a low carbon energy supply that supports the development of green industry and services.

The country also targets to achieve forest cover of 30 per cent of total land area by 2020 which would help reduce the greenhouse gases emissions.

Henriette Umulisa, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion, observed that the new proposed climate change project would enable the country increase its food production.

"Over 80 per cent of Rwandans are involved in agriculture with the majority of them being women. With such projects it will help us to empower Rwandans and reduce on the negative impact that climate change has been causing," she said.

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