A New Climate for Peace: Rwanda
Disaster risk management increases fragility
Due to its mountainous topography, high population density, and changing climatic patterns, Rwanda’s Ngororero District faces environmental risks. In 2007, flooding and landslides damaged houses and property, displacing thousands and destroying livelihoods. The Rwandan government’s land reform programme classified most of Ngororero as a ‘high-risk zone’; people in these zones, who were predominantly rural poor subsistence farmers, were resettled to safer areas or imidugudus (model villages). Under the government’s plan, the reclaimed high-risk land will be rehabilitated to reduce landslide risks by planting cash crops, such as tea and coffee, as a means to control soil erosion.
However, the relocation of people has not been managed well and the displaced population lacks land to grow their own food. Energy security is also limited, as 98.8 percent of the district’s households rely on firewood as primary fuel used for cooking. Given that the region has historically been afflicted by ethnic conflict, the risk is high that these strategies could exacerbate fragility.
Secondly, government strategies to shift production from market gardens and subsistence crops, such as potatoes and beans, towards cash crops, such as coffee and tea, increased vulnerability to climate change and, ultimately, fragility. Cash crops can reduce poverty and boost economic growth. However, tea and coffee are climate-sensitive crops, and terrace farming encourages deforestation. Moreover, the banning of subsistence farming increased grievances among people who were less able feed themselves.
- Government of Rwanda 2013: Western Province Ngororero district. Retrieved 25 Nov 2014, from http://www.ngororero.gov.rw/uploads/media/NGORORERO_DISTRICT_DDP_2____2….
- International Alert forthcoming: Case study Ngororero, Rwanda, 2013. London: International Alert.
- Ngabitsinze, Jean C.; Adrie Mukashema; Mireille Ikirezi and Fidèle Niyitanga 2011: Planning and costing adaptation of perennial crop systems to climate change: Coffee and banana in Rwanda Case study report. London: International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED).
- UNDP 2012: Reducing vulnerability to climate change by establishing early warning and disaster preparedness systems and support for integrated watershed. Rwanda case study. New York: UNDP.