24 April 2018

Rwanda: How Rwanda's Largest Climate Resilience Investment is Taking Shape

Weather related disasters such as flooding and landslides affecting the livelihoods of residents of Gicumbi District, Northern Province could soon be curbed following the launch of a $32.8m initiative funded by the Green Climate Fund.

The initiative is a partnership with the Ministry of Environment and aims at building resilience of small-holder farmers and communities vulnerable to climate change who have often lost their harvest due to changing weather patterns.

The project, dubbed "Strengthening Climate resilience of Communities in Northern Rwanda," is one of the largest investments in regards to climate resilience and is set to run for 6 years between 2018 and 2024.

It is part of Rwanda's pathways towards developing a low carbon economy.

The initiative will directly support about 150,000 residents, with wider benefits to more than 380,000 people all who have little resources to mitigate and adapt to climate change, officials say.

Coletha Ruhamya, the Director General of Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA), last week told Business Times that the project will protect River Muvumba watershed as well as establish adaptation and mitigation approaches in the agricultural sector and green settlements.

"Rwanda has been awarded a $32.8 million grant to strengthen climate resilience in Gicumbi District. The project will be facilitated by Rwanda Green Climate Fund (FONERWA) and aims to restore and enhance part of Muvumba watershed, increase the capacity of communities to renew and sustainably manage forest resources, and support smallholder farmers to adopt climate resilient agriculture," she said.

More than half a million Rwandans, she added, will be impacted by the investment in nine sectors of Gicumbi District which include; Kaniga, Rubaya, Cyumba, Rushaki, Shangasha, Mukarange, Manyagiro, Byumba and Bwisige.

The approaches are soon to be replicated across the country, she said.

The investment plan shows that in addition to the $32.8 million grant from the Green Climate Fund, FONERWA will contribute $147,000 to the project while Gicumbi District has allocated $107,000. Wood Foundation is also providing $105,964.

"We are pleased with the progress we are making in accessing and utilizing funding through Green Climate Fund as we seek to meet our socio-economic transformation goals to become a developed, low carbon economy," Ruhamya said.

Among the expected outcomes of the project include improved management of land and forests leading to emissions reduction, strengthened adaptive capacity and reduced exposure to climate risks, fuel-efficient cooking methods and modification of human settlements to increase climate resilience.

Reducing carbon emission

Over the six years course of the project, it estimates that an equivalent of 273,720 tonnes of carbon dioxide will be mitigated.

The project's statistical background shows that climate change in Rwanda has had significant impacts such as rise in temperature over recent decades.

It further shows that the future economic cost of climate change in Rwanda could be significant if left unchecked. It is estimated at an additional impact of 1 per cent of GDP each year by 2030.

The trends indicate that the changes in rainfall (and rainfall unpredictability) are increasingly becoming uncertain, though an increase in heavy rainfall in Rwanda is projected as well as increases in rainfall uncertainty.

Experts say could worsen the impacts of then current climate uncertainty in the country leading to new risks.

Gicumbi welcomes initiative

Juvenal Mudaheranwa, the Mayor of Gicumbi District told Business Times in an interview that weather related disasters have been a major cause of losses to farmers in the area.

"The project is timely since farmers are already counting losses. The waters coming from small rivers that connect to Muvumba Rivers have caused flooding and landslides over the last two weeks. This is because there no infrastructure controlling erosion in the catchments such as terraces, forestry to sustain the soil," he said.

In recent weeks, he said flooding has affected over 100 hectares of tea plantations and other crops in the area targeted by the climate resilience initiative.

"Farmers will feel relived once implementation begins while human settlements are also an issue that we expect that the project will tackle. We have also had cases of floods destroying infrastructure such as roads and bridges in the area. We are still in the process of generating a full report of recent disaster effects in the area," he said.

Need of involving private sector in climate resilient investments

The Green Climate Fund which provided the grant for the project is also inviting private sector partners to submit project proposals to be considered for such funding.

According to Ruhamya, so far none of Rwanda's private sector investors has secured financing from the Fund.

"There are many opportunities for private sector to address environmental challenges, including climate change impact in the sectors of agriculture, energy, water, forests, waste management, industries and transport among others," she said.

The financing to Rwanda, according to Ruhamya, is part of Paris Agreement on climate change where developed nations agreed to mobilise $100 billion per year by 2020 to address the mitigation and adaptation needs of developing countries which also requires private sector involvement.

"It was also agreed that a share of the climate finance under the agreement should be channeled through the Green Climate Fund", she said.

Rwanda has been working with Green Climate Fund for years which in 2015 led government to receive direct access accreditation to the Fund.

Since 2015, Rwanda has had access to preparatory programmes worth about $2.5 million in aspects such as capacity building in a bid to develop as a low carbon economy.

$1.5 billion private sector Facility

Speaking last week at a workshop on engaging private sector members to access financing from the Fund, Ayaan Adam, the Director of Private Sector Facility at Green Climate Fund, said that they are looking out for projects that are in line with national ambitions.

"We are looking for projects that are in line with countries' ambition to basically support the Paris Agreement and their national adaptation plans. We had a capital of $10 billion at inception. We have approved programmes worth $6.3 billion and $1.5 billion for private sector of which some major projects were funded in Africa, such as Egypt multi-billion renewable frameworks," she said.

Going forward, she noted the need to identify areas relevant to private sector intervention as well as encouraging public private partnership in implementing low carbon emissions projects.

Callixte Kanamugire, the Chief Advocacy Officer at Private Sector Federation, said: "We have to foster awareness and capacity building on how to design bankable projects and access to the funds. This is what is needed to encourage us to invest in green economy".

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