Africa
27 Oct 2015

Over 310,000 seedlings to mitigate the local impacts of climate change

Flooding causing crop failure ©ACNR
By Jean Paul Kubwimana, Project Coordinator ACNR

Meteorological data and recent events provide glaring evidence that climate change is happening and that it will particularly affect poorer and natural resources-dependant countries like Rwanda. The observed shift in the occurrence of the rainy seasons and the dry seasons in certain regions of Rwanda distorts agricultural growing seasons and causes confusion among farmers as it affects the timing of field preparation and planting, crop growth, and increasing incidences of crop diseases and pests resulting in lower agricultural yields.

Poor management of soil upstream causes soil <br/>erosion downstream Bamboo ready to be planted ©ACNR

The occasional extreme and historically exceptional high rainfall in the western region of Rwanda, East and South-East of Lake Kivu, presents an example of unusual climate events causing soil erosion and floods that have negative impacted agriculture while destroying local public infrastructure such as bridges and irrigation ditches. Moreover, the erratic rainfall in the different districts of Rwanda including Rusizi and Nyamasheke where 60-90% households are affected, will not only cause rising prices of staple foods, but also result in immediate food and nutrition insecurity, worsening the already difficult situation of particularly most vulnerable groups such as the elderly, children and women.

Local organizations are supporting local communities to adapt to climate change and to help find sustainable solutions to cope with the various climate change associated threats to biodiversity, ecosystem services and hence livelihoods. The Association pour la Conservation de la Nature au Rwanda (ACNR), the BirdLife International partner in Rwanda, plus other partners in the region work together to enhance climate change resilience in the Lake Kivu Basin by applying the CRAG approach

The CRAG approach brings together a variety of conservation approaches and activities, such as integrated water management; ecosystem-based adaptation to climate change; soil and forest management; and community livelihoods, which all have impact across the landscape in ways that directly benefit human wellbeing and biodiversity values.

Bamboo ready to be planted ©ACNR

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As part of the interventions to enhance climate resilience, ACNR is working with Local Conservation Groups (LCGs) in the west of Rwanda. To ensure that the interventions have a real and lasting impact on the ground, ACNR has decided to work with 4 LCGs in a relatively small area in Nyamasheke District, located between Lake Kivu and Nyungwe Forest National Park. As governance capacity of the groups is being strengthened, the LCGs, with support from ACNR and technical staff from the local government, are preparing 305,000 tree seedlings which will be planted in November 2015. The seedlings include fruit trees, agroforestry trees and trees for reforestation which will contribute to run-off reduction and erosion control, while providing nutrition and other useful tree products such as building materials and fire wood. In addition to the planting of trees, the LCG members will be planting 7,000 seedlings of bamboo along 23 kilometer of Lake Kivu to protect its banks against erosion while providing the local communities with a much appreciated and sought after non-timber forest product.

Over 310,000 tree and bamboo seedlings in 4 communities: an excellent start which can hopefully be further scaled up by ACNR and others over the coming years.

ACNR is project partner in the “Enhancing Climate Change Resilience in Great Lakes Region Watersheds: the Lake Kivu Catchment and Rusizi River CRAG” project which is funded by the MacArthur Foundation.