Rwanda – Building capacity and raising awareness for a sensitive community on climate change adaptation

  1. Title of your Project

Building capacity and raising awareness for a sensitive community on climate change adaptation in Rwanda.

  1. Name of organisation

Organization: Nile Basin Discourse Forum in Rwanda.
Coordinator: John Bosco Gakumba
Implementor: Nile Basin Discourse Forum in Rwanda and it Member NGOs

  1. Location of project

Community: Civil Society Organizations, Community Based Organizations and Journalists
Province: All the five provinces of Rwanda
Country: Rwanda

  1. Project duration

Project started: September 2009
Project finished (if applicable): May 2010

  1. Contact information

Name of contact person: John GAKUMBA
Name of organisation:Nile Basin Discourse Forum in Rwanda
Detailed address: PO Box 7216, Kigali-Rwanda
Phone: +250788307662
Website of your project (if different): –

  1. Summary of practice

The project seeks to achieve 3 main objectives:

  1. To build capacity of Civil society Organizations and Journalists on climate change adaptation
  2. To provide adequate information by producing and disseminating awareness materials on climate change adaptation
  3. Document and disseminate  best practices of climate change adaptation and vulnerability reduction
  4. To build capacity of Civil society Organizations on climate change adaptation
  5. To provide adequate information by producing and disseminating awareness materials on climate change adaptation
  6. Document and disseminate  best practices of climate change adaptation and vulnerability reduction

Background and rationale: the problem

Lack of information and unconsciousness of Rwandan communities on climate change slow down efforts to mitigate climate change challenges.

Over the past 14 years, Rwanda has made significant progress in rebuilding economic, administrative and judicial infrastructures devastated by the 1994 genocide. Rwanda has also made advances in environmental protection, and measures have been taken to tackle problems related to environmental degradation.

Rwanda’s population of more than 9 million is one of the most densely concentrated in Africa, and fertility rates are among the highest in the continent.  In a rain-fed agrarian economy with a high rate of poverty and food insecurity, climate change sharpens its claws for potentially devastating impact. Any reduction in rainfall will damage farm yields whilst extreme or torrential downpours will hasten the process of soil erosion.  All these problems are seen in almost all the regions of Rwanda, and more specifically in the Nile Basin region, which covers more than 80% of the national territory.

Experts say population pressure has led to a rapid degradation of the wetlands and forests over the past two decades, making the population prone to hazards of climate change. It is estimated that in the past two decades, Rwanda has lost about 60 percent of its forest cover. This situation put most of the population vulnerable to climate change with very limited capacity for adaptation.  Most of the people think that climate situation is the will of God, and therefore they cannot do anything to change God’s will

Despite recent advances in environmental protection, Rwanda still faces many challenges in implementing a comprehensive and sustainable environmental policy, while political will is strong, traditional, cultural, poverty and lack of adequate behavior change strategy exert a strong influence, and existing government and civil society institutions at every level lack the knowledge, skills and capacities to fully act on changing local population mindset and practices.  Rwanda has been prompt on climate changes by trying to help its population in various ways through propositions on adaptation and mitigation.  According to its analysis of vulnerability in National Adaptation Program Action (NAPA) Rwanda, a strategy for adequate response to this situation was reached that is articulated to six national priorities which include the following:

  1. An Integrated Water Resource Management – IWRM;
  2. Setting up an information systems to early warning of hydro-agro meteorological system and rapid intervention mechanisms;
  3. Promotion of non agricultural income generating activities;
  4. Promotion of intensive agro pastoral activities;
  5. Introduction of species resisting to environmental conditions;
  6. Development of firewood alternative sources of energy
  7. Context/Approach description

From 2003, NBDF Rwanda has supported civil society organizations in Rwanda to gain skills in different domains: Integrated Water Resources Management, Project design and implementation, Environmental Impact Assessment.  The capacity building approach built on its existing partnerships with other networks, development partners, government and academic institutions.  Through this project, NBDF Rwanda has builton the previous training workshops to train more civil society organizations on climate change adaptation.

Key activities for this outcome include:

  • Train civil Society organizations representatives on:
  • Food security and climate change
  • Adapting agriculture to climate change
  • Forestry and climate change
  • Population pressure and climate change
  • Climate change and sustainable development
  • The community climate change adaptation approach
  • Gender and climate change
  • Climate change negotiations
  1. Community involvement

onductingstudy visits to see adaptation measures: With this activity, Civil Society members conduct study visits in the country, to see initiatives on climate change adaptation.  Also, from the ToT course material, five member NGOs to NBDF Rwanda have been selected to carryout the sensitization workshops in the five provinces of Rwanda.

There are also initiatives on best practices such as tree planting exercises that NBDF Rwanda carried out together with communities in Gashora in Bugesera-Eastern Province; this included household members within the region and local administrators from Mayor’s office.

  1. Results & Lessons learned

Through various project components, it has been realised that there is great evidence of climate change impacts nevertheless the communities still cannot differentiate the occurances of climate change and those environmental degradation.

In some areas, where best practices such as tree planting, terraces on highland areas, establishment of settlements (Imidugudu), watershed management in swamps, organic farming, use of energy saving stoves, solar energy as well as biogas plants and many more have shown great improvement in helping communities adapt to climate change as well as mitigating some of the negative impacts.

The great challenge in all the measures for adaptation to climate change is still wide ignorance on interpreting climate change effects due to lack of financial resources and lack of expertriates who would help to build capacity and raising awareness of the communities.

9.1  Results

  • 45 NGO Project Managers and representatives have so far been trained in various sectors on climate change issues of adaptation and mitigation as ToTs and given certificates.
  • Also, 32 Journalists from various media houses were trained in scientific reporting and writing on climate change issues affected our communities.
  • Also, best practices have been documented both in a report as well as a documentary; also various TV Programs have been aired as well as Radio Talkshows have been broadcast all tackling issues concerning climate change. Also, twice within the project lifespan, two issues of newsletters been published and circulated among stakeholders; 500 copies per publication, also posters and brochures have been circulated and also modification on the NBDF Rwanda website with information on climate change.
  • Over 7000 trees were planted on the 23rd November 2009 inline with national tree planting activities in Gashora in Bugesera. This exercise included member NGOs, communities from household and local administrators.
  1. 2 Critical Success Factors
  • The above results were realised due to greater support from UNEP-UNDP Joint CC DARE Unit and Danish Foreign Ministry which funded this project with 90,000USD.
  • Also support from the Rwandan government through Rwanda Environmental Managment Authority.
  • A well organized and professional coordination team headed by the Project Coordinator.
  • The willingness of member NGO to Nile Basin Discourse Forum in Rwanda was an extra credit.
  • Finally, the fact that communities are suffering due to impacts of climate change facilitated the will to work together.


  • Lack of enough funds to implement activities on the ground; there is great need in establishing pilot plants for demonstration of the best practices.
  • The project was for a very short period where by the results couldn’t be well assessed after a period of 6 months only.
  • Also, the insufficiency of funds to extend the project to a wider scope of involvement for different stakeholders.
  • Lack enough and well qualified climate change experts.

6.3. Transferability 

Yes, this project is replicable.


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