Embrace use of gas to save environment, says Premier
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Prime Minister Anastase Murekezi has urged all Rwandans to nurture, preserve and efficiently utilise natural resources by adopting the use of gas and biogas, noting that natural resources embody wealth as well as beauty for the country.
The Prime Minister was speaking, yesterday, during the launch of the 2016/2017 forest planting season in Gicumbi District, Northern Province.
Murekezi said that in this season, tree planting will be carried out on 8,080 hectares, while trees that can be inter-cropped will be planted on 19,364 hectares in a bid to benefit from agro-forestry.
According to the Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA), agro-foresty controls erosion, provides fodder, improves soil fertility and contributes to social well-being and green economic growth.
This activity, Murekezi said, is in line with Rwanda’s set target to have 30 per cent of its entire country covered by forests by 2018.
“We are near, we will undoubtedly attain this target because we have currently reached 29.6 percent,” he said
However, Murekezi noted that figures from experts show that about 94 percent of Rwandans in the countryside use wood for cooking and lighting, while 67 per cent of urban dwellers also depend on wood energy.
“If we continue to cut trees at such a rate, we risk wiping out forests, and as a result, our country can turn into a desert.
“That is why I take this opportunity to request all Rwandans, mainly those living in the urban centres, to embrace the new culture of using gas for cooking,” he said, noting that gas cooks faster and ensures hygiene in the kitchen.
Murekezi noted that gas utilisation is an important area, the reason the government waived taxes on it to make it more affordable.
“I request all Rwandans, the public and private sectors and the civil society to make concerted efforts to promote use of gas in our country because it benefits all of us and our country in general,” he said.
The Prime Minister also encouraged people living in villages and those in schools and prisons to embrace the use of biogas for cooking.
“Biogas is also cheaper than wood and charcoal. Biogas ensures hygiene and it does not affect the quality of manure; rather you get the energy for cooking, lighting and you maintain your manure,’ he said.
Why preserve trees?
On the importance of trees, the PM noted that they help control erosion, and that tree leaves mix with soil to form manure for more fertility.
He said trees also generate oxygen to the benefit of people’s health.
The Prime Minister said that the Government will facilitate the planting of trees along the banks of all lakes, rivers and other water bodies to prevent landslides and erosion.
The Gicumbi District mayor, Juvénal Mudaheranwa, said over 90 per cent of the district population live off agriculture and the district is largely made up of mountains.
He welcomed the strategies to protect its land against erosion, adding that the district has so far 17,756 hectares covered by forests and 6,076 hectares under agro-forestry category.
During yesterday’s community service (Umuganda), about 6,400 eucalyptus trees were planted on the hillside near Lake Muhazi in Gicumbi’s Bukure Sector to protect the lake against erosion. The district plans to grow trees on 100 hectares along the lake.
Michel Rutagengwa, a resident of Gicumbi District, told Sunday Times that he had understood the socio-economic importance of trees and forests after yesterday’s activities.
“As you can see, our area is hilly. When it rains heavily, torrents wash away our crops along with the fertile soil. As a result, we cannot get good produce. That is why we must value trees and forests as they help prevent such issues,”” he said.
However, Rutagengwa noted that much as residents appreciated the benefits of biogas, they did not have technical know-how on how it works.
According to the Rwanda State of the Environment and Outlook Report 2015 published by REMA, planted forests supply almost all wood fuel, with charcoal accounting for about 15.2 per cent of households’ primary energy sources in Rwanda.
As per the report, the total forest coverage in 2015 was 696,402 ha, of which 258,066 ha was natural forest (40 per cent) and 438,336 ha (60 per cent) was [tree] plantations.
Vision 2020 aims to reduce the percentage of households using wood for energy from 86.3 in 2012 to 50 per cent, the report shows.