Launched in October 2019, Strengthening climate resilience of rural communities in Northern Rwanda is a six-year project that aims at increasing the resilience of vulnerable communities to climate change. The project is currently implemented by the Rwanda Green Fund-FONERWA under the support of the Green Climate Fund (GCF).

The project is commonly referred to as the Green Gicumbi project (GGP) as it takes place in the district of the same name. December 2020 marks the end of the Fiscal Year 2020 of the GCF which is the Funder of the project.

In one year of implementation, significant progress has been made in regards to the planned project annual targets and tremendous achievements as well as the socio-economic impact on beneficiaries tangibly speak themselves on the ground across all nine sectors of Gicumbi District that are covered under the project.

The first year of the Green Gicumbi project has generally been a bit challenging due to the Covid-19 pandemic that hindered the world’s daily businesses including Rwanda.

Despite the challenging period of Covid-19 lockdown that Rwanda entered in as a way of containing the pandemic- just five months after the project was officially launched - the project was able to achieve its annual targets for most of all planned activities which mainly focused on:

● Improving the ecosystem resilience of the Muvumba watershed to reduce risks of climate variability through ecosystem-based interventions
● Activities on reducing vulnerability to environmental and climate change threats, improving economic opportunities and increasing local capacity for sustainable development outcomes
● Preparatory activities towards construction of climate resilience houses and support highly vulnerable households living in exposed areas to relocate to green social housing developments.

The project has continuously focused on the integration among the four main components which are the watershed protection and climate resilient agriculture; sustainable forest management and sustainable energy; climate-resilient settlements as well as knowledge transfer and mainstreaming. All these components have recorded good progress in line with the set annual targets.

Watershed protection and climate resilient agriculture.
On this component for instance, radical terraces were established on 400 hectares while progressive terraces were established on 370 hectares as part of controlling flooding and soil erosion to ensure improved land management as well as increased agricultural productivity.

400 tons of improved seeds of irish potatoes and 14 tons of beans were distributed to the local community, check dams constructed on more than 125 hectares, water ways built on more than 17.5Kms while the pegging was also done on 160 hectares. Pegging refers to topographic works related to the establishment contour lines.

Weather and climate services for tea and coffee farmers
With efforts to promoting the mountain tea, the project has so far produced 600,000 seedlings of tea that will be planted on 50 hectares. Seedlings are still in the nurseries.

The project is also expected to provide weather and climate services for tea and coffee farmers to increase productivity and reduce losses from weather and climate variability. In line with this, currently 3 weather stations are under construction in three sectors in Gicumbi District and this is being done in close partnership with Meteo Rwanda which is a national organ in charge of providing weather, water and climate information services for safety of life and property and socio-economic development.

In regards to planting coffee which is expected to be done on 40 ha, seedlings are still in the nurseries. However, the project has so far implemented different preliminary activities including topographic works, first ploughing, clearing the land, second ploughing, digging holes, digging ditches, water ways and construction of check dams.

Sustainable forest management and sustainable energy use
As part of this component, 380 hectares of degraded forests were rehabilitated against the target of 400 hectares while 58,000 seedlings including 28,000 of avocado and 30,000 of Tamarilo were produced and distributed to the local communities.

Still on this component, three model nurseries were constructed and 40,000 seedlings produced including 10,000 for each of the category of fruits trees, agroforestry, eucalyptus and ornamental while 10,000 bamboo seedlings were also planted. The latter will be handed over to the tea cooperatives for future management and use.

Furthermore, more than 6,000 cook stoves with high standard were distributed to the local community with focus on vulnerable families to reduce carbon emissions and deforestation rate through the use of cook stoves that save the firewood at 60%. These cook stoves were produced by a company that was tested by international laboratories using ISO standards.

Click here to view pictures of the launch of the forestry planting season 2020-2021 under the Green Gicumbi project.

Climate-resilient settlements
This component regards the green social housing developments to reduce the number of vulnerable households living in high risk zones whereby 100 houses with green infrastructure are expected to be constructed. Currently, the property valuation was done and the payment process is ongoing. Also, 2400 out of the targeted 3,000 check dams are currently under construction in seven gullies located in three sectors.

Training and knowledge transfer and mainstreaming
A total of 168 community coordination committee members were established and trained as well as 54 people including project volunteers, forest extension officers, agronomists, land officer, veterinary officers and social officers were also trained on mainstreaming of the climate resilient approaches into existing forestry programmes and practices to support scale up and replication. Currently, they are also supporting the community mobilizations within their respective sectors.

Green jobs created
Thanks to different project activities, more than 17,000 green jobs have been created with the component on watershed protection and climate resilient agriculture taking a big share of more than 12,000 green jobs.

Faced challenges and way out
Despite a number of successes recorded by the project in its year one of implementation, the program faced some challenges notably the low community awareness sessions due to the Covid-19 challenge and the slow rate of securing land by the District to construct the planned green settlements. To address the former, the project will continue to observe MoH Covid-19 guidelines in mobilizing communities on the ground. In support of the latter, the Green Gicumbi Project will also continue to engage the district authorities with a greater sense of remedying these issues through building strategic partnerships/synergies with recipient communities.