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Rwanda

Rwanda, the ‘land of a thousand hills’, is a landlocked country in east-central Africa. It is a small country at just over 26,000km², which makes it similar in size to Haiti or Macedonia. It is just south of the equator and sandwiched between Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania and Burundi. The lowest point in the country is 950m above sea level, so it is a lofty place dominated by mountains in the western and central regions and home to many large lakes and river systems.


It has a temperate tropical highland climate with two rainy (February - June and September to December) and two dry seasons (June - September and December to February) each year. The summer months bring a much more severe dry season, with little to no rain. Fortunately, the high altitude of the country means that temperatures are moderated. Kigali in central Rwanda has a temperature variation of 12-27°C, noticeably lower than other equatorial regions. 


Rwanda has a rich biodiversity, although it is now largely concentrated in the three national parks. The rest of the country is dominated by terraced agriculture. The three parks are distinct from each other in terms of their flora and fauna. Nyungwe is heavily forested and has over 200 unique tree species, as well as 13 primate varieties. The Volcanoes National Park is mostly bamboo or moorland (and home to a third of the world’s mountain gorillas), and Akagera is a savanna with populations of giraffe and elephant. 


The region now known as Rwanda was inhabited by hunter-gatherer cultures in the stone age and was later populated by Bantu peoples. Clans and then kingdoms formed over time, culminating in the Kingdom of Rwanda in the mid-1700s. Eventually, Germany arrived in colonial force, and Belgium invaded during WWI and took control. Modern Rwandan history has been characterised by conflict between two major ethnic groups - the Hutu and Tutsi. Civil war and the genocide of 1994 (in which 500,000 - 1 million Tutsi were killed) crippled the country in social and economic terms.


Since then, it has been making a recovery based on subsistence agriculture, cash crops (mostly coffee), and a developing tourism industry. More peaceful times allow for the beauty of the Rwandan nature and people to shine through and overpower memories of a brutal past. 

TOTAL POPULATION

11.3 million YEAR 2014

CO2 EMISSIONS

840 kt COUNTRY, YEAR 2014

822,800 kt Sub-Saharan Africa, YEAR 2014

“To deviate emissions from the business as usual path by 2030, conditional on international support.”

PARIS AGREEMENT TARGET

Created by potrace 1.10, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2011

RWANDA | ALL PROJECTS

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john gaffey donated € 12 to The Bedechka Case: Fighting the Neglect of Green Urban Areas. Adi Lazos donated € 22 to The Bedechka Case: Fighting the Neglect of Green Urban Areas. Juliana Medaglia donated € 20 to Fighting the Silent Disappearance of the Great Brazilian Savannah. FREDERIC ACHARD donated € 50 to CROWDFOREST: Making Reforestation Faster and Free through Unmanned Aerial Vehicles. Thalita Medaglia donated € 15 to Fighting the Silent Disappearance of the Great Brazilian Savannah. Katie Hereing donated € 25 to Expanding Sesi’s Bottle Refill Scheme to Make Zero Plastic Waste Shopping Mainstream in the UK. Angelica Seminara donated € 10 to CROWDFOREST: Making Reforestation Faster and Free through Unmanned Aerial Vehicles. Nevena Vlaykova donated € 20 to The Bedechka Case: Fighting the Neglect of Green Urban Areas. Melanie Bitto donated € 40 to Application of satellite telemetry data to better understand the breeding strategies of humpback whales in the Southern Hemisphere. 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CLIMATE SIGNIFICANCE

The diversity of Rwanda’s landscape makes it vulnerable to a range of climate change-induced threats. The lowlands of the east are naturally susceptible to drought, and the highlands to the north-west face heavy rainfall. Agriculture is hugely important for Rwandan people (often on a subsistence basis), as well as the larger economy - making up one-third of the GDP. 

Climate change means increasingly unpredictable and extreme weather. This is bad news for all farmers, who often rely on consistency and moderation of weather for successful harvests and healthy yields. Erratic weather patterns severely impact the growth of crops, and extreme weather is hugely damaging. Droughts kill through water starvation, and heavy rains can wash away already strained soils, destroying crops in the process. Deforestation exacerbates this problem by removing protective trees and exposing land to whatever the climate throws at it - as well as harming the abundant biodiversity Rwanda can be so proud of.

Rwanda’s GDP and population are growing consistently. This is good news for a developing economy, but this growth must be supported in a sustainable way if it is to continue alongside the challenges of climate change. To this end, Rwanda has a clear and ambitious vision of its future.

Looking ahead to 2050, the government is focused on building a strong and low carbon economy, with low poverty and low unemployment. It recognises that long-term, industries will only survive if they are sustainable, and so the emphasis must be on developing low-carbon domestic energy resources. On top of this, there is the ambition to minimise Rwanda’s contribution to climate change alongside the Sustainable Development Goals and develop the local knowledge and infrastructure to meet challenges as they emerge.

Rwanda knows what must be done, and the international community must help them do it. This country, its people, animals and plants deserve the chance to ride out the challenges our planet if facing and ensure Rwanda continues to grow as the stunning place it is.


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DATA INSIGHTS

The World Bank classifies Rwanda as a low-income country. To understand Rwanda’s position in the fight against climate change, it is useful to observe its history of carbon emissions and exposure to climate risk. The following plots provide an overview of Rwanda’s historic greenhouse gas emissions in perspective with global emission levels, as well as the country’s relative vulnerability and preparedness to climate change.

Rwanda Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Rwanda’s timeline of total GHG emissions and the percentage change from 1990

This plot combines 3 pieces of information measured from 1990 - 2012: The bar chart indicates the volume of the country’s GHG emissions, the dotted line shows the variation of this volume compared to the baseline 1990, and the full line presents the same variation, but globally.


Greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane and fluorocarbons are the main drivers of global warming. Between 1990 and 2012, the world’s emissions grew by 40%.


Rwanda’s emissions surged by 51% between 1990 and 2000. Methane emissions from the energy sector increased during this period, especially in the mid-90s. Between 2000 and 2010, a 50% increase in emissions was observed. Agricultural methane emissions and energy-related emissions have seen a sharp increase during this period. Overall, Rwanda’s emissions have increased by 106% between 1990 and 2012. 


In Rwanda for the year 2014, emissions from the agriculture sector (39%) are predominantly followed by waste (25%), energy (23%) and land-use change and forestry (like clearing forests for agriculture practices and open burning of biomass) (11%). Methane emissions are higher than CO2 emissions in Rwanda. As Rwanda’s economy is highly dependent on the agricultural sector (34% of GNP), soil degradation and environmental destruction are quite prevalent. Rwanda needs a tremendous development right from improving access to electricity to the population which is currently at 30% to climate-smart agricultural practices. (Source: WRI, 2018; World Bank, 2018; UNFCCC)


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Rwanda Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Rwanda’s timeline of total GHG emissions and the percentage change from 1990

graph

This plot combines 3 pieces of information measured from 1990 - 2012: The bar chart indicates the volume of the country’s GHG emissions, the dotted line shows the variation of this volume compared to the baseline 1990, and the full line presents the same variation, but globally.


Greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane and fluorocarbons are the main drivers of global warming. Between 1990 and 2012, the world’s emissions grew by 40%.


Rwanda’s emissions surged by 51% between 1990 and 2000. Methane emissions from the energy sector increased during this period, especially in the mid-90s. Between 2000 and 2010, a 50% increase in emissions was observed. Agricultural methane emissions and energy-related emissions have seen a sharp increase during this period. Overall, Rwanda’s emissions have increased by 106% between 1990 and 2012. 


In Rwanda for the year 2014, emissions from the agriculture sector (39%) are predominantly followed by waste (25%), energy (23%) and land-use change and forestry (like clearing forests for agriculture practices and open burning of biomass) (11%). Methane emissions are higher than CO2 emissions in Rwanda. As Rwanda’s economy is highly dependent on the agricultural sector (34% of GNP), soil degradation and environmental destruction are quite prevalent. Rwanda needs a tremendous development right from improving access to electricity to the population which is currently at 30% to climate-smart agricultural practices. (Source: WRI, 2018; World Bank, 2018; UNFCCC)


Rwanda Climate Vulnerability and Readiness (CVRI)

Rwanda’s vulnerability and readiness to combat climate change

This graph ranks a country’s climate performance by measuring its readiness (x-axis) and its vulnerability (y-axis). Both are measured from 0 - 1 (1 being the most ready or most vulnerable). This index combines indicators of a country’s exposure to climate change and others that measure the country’s potential to withstand those shocks. 


Each dot in this plot represents a country. The countries in most urgent situations are on the top left of the graph whilst the most resilient ones stand at the bottom right.


Rwanda is categorized as a country with high vulnerability to climate change impacts and a moderate level of adaptation. Agricultural capacity is at risk threatening the food security as well as the economy of the country. Electricity production is hugely dependent on hydro and thermal power sectors. The need for increasing electricity generation can be fulfilled by using renewable technologies. Dependency on firewood for energy production which is quite prevalent could be complemented by using biogas based methods. (Source: ND-GAIN, 2018)


The impacts of climate change vary by country and region. But wherever you are, local-level adaptation projects are necessary. You have all the cards in hand, now go explore our live projects and be one of the good guys.


TAKE ACTION

Rwanda Climate Vulnerability and Readiness (CVRI)

Rwanda’s vulnerability and readiness to combat climate change

graph

This graph ranks a country’s climate performance by measuring its readiness (x-axis) and its vulnerability (y-axis). Both are measured from 0 - 1 (1 being the most ready or most vulnerable). This index combines indicators of a country’s exposure to climate change and others that measure the country’s potential to withstand those shocks. 


Each dot in this plot represents a country. The countries in most urgent situations are on the top left of the graph whilst the most resilient ones stand at the bottom right.


Rwanda is categorized as a country with high vulnerability to climate change impacts and a moderate level of adaptation. Agricultural capacity is at risk threatening the food security as well as the economy of the country. Electricity production is hugely dependent on hydro and thermal power sectors. The need for increasing electricity generation can be fulfilled by using renewable technologies. Dependency on firewood for energy production which is quite prevalent could be complemented by using biogas based methods. (Source: ND-GAIN, 2018)


The impacts of climate change vary by country and region. But wherever you are, local-level adaptation projects are necessary. You have all the cards in hand, now go explore our live projects and be one of the good guys.


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