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  • Writer's pictureRichard Campbell

Rwanda’s Green Future

Updated: Mar 11, 2022

The 21st century Rwanda places sustainability at the core of its identity and nations all over the world can take inspiration from them.

There was a time when Rwanda would mainly bring to mind the horrific memory of the 1994 Rwandan Genocide. Around 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and Hutus were slaughtered. Photographs of the victims haunted media outlets worldwide.

But in the past few years, Rwanda has become affiliated with a more positive story. A story that centres round a dedication to ecological matters.

The 21st century Rwanda positions environmentalism at the core of its identity and while moving on from a devastating past isn’t easy, the country looks like it has many positive things in its future.

There are many ways in which the country is working towards sustainability and there are things happening in Rwanda that nations all over the world can take inspiration from.

Green innovation

A defining characteristic of the modern Rwanda is the innovation of its people. Take the case of Rosette Muhoza and David Kinkuze as an example.

In 2017, they were students, preoccupied with plastic waste. Muhoza and Kinkuze wondered how innovative recycling could reduce single-use waste.

After experimenting, they discovered that mixing plastic with sand could make durable paving. Encouraged by their findings, they experimented more. They later discovered that plastic mixed with sand could be turned into fertiliser.

Rosette later founded a business called My Green Home using these innovations. This business was awarded the Commonwealth Secretariat’s Innovation for Sustainable Development Award.

Green urbanism

Rwanda’s commitment to the environment extends to the country’s urban planning. One of the major plans for its capital, Kigali, epitomises this.

According to “The Green City Kigali is a pioneering concept responding to emerging global issues. Africa’s cities are rapidly growing. The United Nations expect the continent’s population to double by 2050, most of which will be concentrated in urban areas. Addressing this tendency is both a challenge and an opportunity as many move to the city in the hope of finding employment and better living conditions”.

The project covers a range of areas and the incorporation of green space is key. There is also a plan to build low-carbon homes that are affordable for low and middle-income households. The ethos is that building energy efficient accommodation shouldn't be the preserve of high-income people.

There is also a focus on sustainable infrastructure. This will aim to step away from car dependence towards improved public transport and cycling/walking routes.

Community cleaning

Rwanda is often referred to as the cleanest country in Africa. One of the reasons why is due to a concept known as Umuganda. The rough translation of Umuganda is “coming together in common purpose to achieve an outcome”.

It’s a government backed scheme where on the last Saturday of every month, the country’s businesses and roads close. And between 8am and 11am, every citizen contributes to cleaning up the country. This ranges from sweeping streets, to pruning bushes and trees, to repairing buildings.

Another aspect to Rwanda’s cleanliness is that the country is moving away from single use items. For example, in 2008, the government banned the use of plastic bags. Only bags made from paper, papyrus and other biodegradable sources are used.

Environmental protection

Every year, Rwandans plant millions of trees to preserve the country’s forests, rivers and wetlands. 30% of the country, as of 2020, is now covered by forests. In addition, several forests have been restored and upgraded to national park status. Alongside overt ecological benefits, this has increased tourist visits to the country.

Rwanda also established The Green Fund, which is an investment fund to support green private and public projects. They have created over 150,000 green jobs and supported 45 projects.

Alongside preserving its natural assets, Rwanda seeks to make its urban centres clean and sustainable. Its efforts with Kigali show that urban areas do not need to be covered with litter or clogged with fumes.

Through community, policy and ingenuity, Rwanda presents a future for mankind that minimises waste and is kind to the environment and the world would do well to watch its efforts closely.

By Richard Campbell ©

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