Rwanda’s economy and its people's livelihood are highly dependent on natural resources that are under increasing pressure from unsustainable use, soil erosion, deforestation and the impact of increasing climate variability and climate change, especially in rural areas.
In partnership with the Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA), and a range of other ministries including Local Government, Infrastructure and Agriculture and under the leadership of the local women’s-led cooperative, the UNEP-UNDP Poverty-Environment Initiative (PEI) from 2010 to 2018, supported the adoption of a range of economic and environmentally sustainable approaches and technologies making Rubaya the country’s first ‘Green Village’.
Scaled up under the “Integrated Development Programme (IDP) Model Villages”, today, more than 44 village models allow to halt environmental degradation, provide green energy, livelihoods and improved infrastructure for the local inhabitants.
Rwanda’s economy and its people's livelihood are highly dependent on natural resources that are under increasing pressure from unsustainable use, soil erosion, deforestation and the impact of increasing climate variability and climate change. As such, unsustainable use of the environment and natural resources hinders the achievement of national development objectives.
Because of the natural topography in Rwanda, the “Land of 1000 Hills”, the rural population is vulnerable to natural risks and disasters, especially flooding and landslides, which are exacerbated by increasingly extreme weather events caused by climate change.
In many rural areas, over-cultivation of land, inadequate soil conservation and deforestation from firewood collection causes fertile soil to be washed away during heavy rains resulting in lower agricultural productivity and food security. Women and children often have to walk long distances to carry firewood or collect water, leaving little time for other activities and formal education.
Since 2010, Rubaya, a rural village nestled among the hills of Gicumbi District, located in North Rwanda and one of the poorest districts in the country, has been quietly leading a sustainable development revolution. In partnership with the Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA), and a range of other ministries including Local Government, Infrastructure and Agriculture and under the leadership of the local women’s led cooperative, the UNEP-UNDP Poverty-Environment Initiative (PEI) supported the adoption of a range of economic and environmentally sustainable approaches and technologies making Rubaya the country’s first ‘Green Village’.
Terracing and tree planting has reduced soil erosion and deforestation which improved agricultural productivity, and reduced flooding, siltation and water pollution from fertilizer run-off. The new biogas plants have provided Rubaya with a clean source of energy, reducing smoke-related health problems from open fires and dependency on firewood, thereby reducing rates of deforestation. Rainwater harvested and stored in reservoirs and underground tanks is used for crop irrigation and household consumption. With these resources now available close at hand, women and children have more time to engage in other productive activities. The project has also increased crop productivity, allowed to build better houses, a school and a health centre.
A cost-benefit analysis of the project (2017) has proven that the green village project is very cost-effective. The village cost about US$636,000 to construct and costs about US$22,000 per year to run. Using conservative figures, the project demonstrates an internal rate of return of 5.8 percent, 7.7 percent and 8.9 percent over 15, 20 and 30 years, respectively. The study also estimated that investing in an additional 30 villages of 100 households each (1 green village per district) would generate net benefits of about US$21million at a 6 percent discount rate over 30 years, generate further indirect economic benefits equivalent to 0.8 percent of GDP and lead to a 0.71 percent decrease in the extreme poverty rate of 16.3 percent (now at 39%), as villagers have been selected from the poorest strata in the country.
Based on these results and experiences of all stakeholders involved, the Government of Rwanda decided to scale-up the initiative under the “Integrated Development Programme (IDP) Model Villages” under auspices of the Ministry of Local Government and the Rwanda Housing Authority. So far 44 IDP Model Villages have been established, with Government investing USD25million in the Financial Year 2016/17. And in the newly drafted National Strategy for Transformation (NST) for the period 2018-2024, the government targets 4 IDP Model Villages per District, which will be reflected in District Development Strategies and yearly performance contracts (“imihigo”) of government officials. To support this process, REMA with UNDP-UNEP PEI support has developed “Green Village Toolkits” and provides training to national and district technical staff, and village inhabitants.
The green village model has also raised attention among other countries in the region who learned about the green village practice through study exchanges, e.g. through regional PEI events, or study tours from Burkina Faso, Tanzania and other countries.
Rwanda’s Environment Management Authority (REMA), supported by the UNDP-UNEP Poverty Environment Initiative (PEI)
For more information:
Other useful links:
- Rubaya Green Village: http://www.rw.undp.org/content/rwanda/en/home/ourwork/environmentandenergy/successstories/rubaya-an-environment-friendly-pilot-village/
International Technical Specialist
UNDP-UNEP Poverty Environment Initiative (PEI)