Rwanda’s environmental and land use management have increasing importance in policy discussions in recent years. Budget allocation for the sector however, continues to fall short of achieving real progress.
The environment sector budget has continued receiving funds from the government but the amount accorded to the sector has been reducing over the years.
The current process for embellishment of Rwanda’s second generation Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRSP), the Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS), is the first time that the environment has been considered a sector for planning purposes.
This is a significant step forward in ensuring the sustainability of Rwanda’s development, but at the same time this makes objective assessments difficult.
The very nature of the environment is such that its management cannot be planned in isolation from the planning processes in other sectors.
A relatively small number of policy areas in the PRSP matrix have provided explicit reference to the issues of environment and land use that this working group is concerned with.
It is therefore possible to track progress in areas such as land planning, for which objectives were clarified and some evidence of progress is available.
In other areas of the PRSP, issues of land and environment were less well covered.
For example, health and education are two areas in which some developments with environmental implications have been observed, but the PRSP neglected to include the environmental dimensions at the outset.
The working group gave a brief statement, in the main report, on performance in this area where information is available such as development of an environmental health policy, accompanied by an environmental health law and brief reference to the need to sensitise children to ‘the environment’ in the 2006-2010 Education Sector Strategic Plan.
These, among others, should be considered further in the development of the EDPRS to ensure that issues of land use and the environment are treated in a comprehensive and holistic manner.
Most of the areas selected for analysis from the original PRSP matrix have poorly defined or non-existent indicators of performance.
This might be a result of either weak planning in the relevant sectors, or the fact that many of the issues being addressed are difficult to quantify, particularly in the area of poverty – environment where indicators are generally lacking.
This makes it particularly difficult to track progress in the sector. The creation of the environment as a sector points to progress that should further be highlighted.
What can be done through the EDPRS?
Focus on the different linkages between the sectors and levels are necessary to ensure environmental protection and sustainable management. The role of decentralised entities in the EDPRS needs to be clarified.
Prepare environment mainstreaming guidelines for both the sector strategies and for the EDPRS. Clear guidelines from Ministry of finance and economic planning (MINECOFIN) on the forward looking work in EDPRS process.
Better coordination between sectoral policies, coordinating the EDPRS.
The relationship between the central government and decentralised planning processes needs clarification and clear prioritisation in planning and integrated planning for mainstreaming of environment in all sectors is necessary.
Policies and laws should enhance sustainable development for economic growth.
The regulatory role of the government must be complimented by sound policies that provide sustainable alternatives and investments to support the alternatives.
Strengthen capacity to ensure adequate implementation of policies and law enforcement and compliance of legislation, prepare joint strategies, and strengthen monitoring and evaluation of the progress.
Ensure environmental protection, cross cutting dimensions of the environment requires sector wide approach to assure comprehensive implementation as well as effective capacity building measures, adequate strategy to tackle soil and fertility losses integrating the need for protection and agricultural production, ensure watershed protection through integrated approaches that include waste water treatment and sanitation.
Rehabilitation of degraded ecosystems such as wetlands and promoting terracing to mitigate soil and fertility losses. Land administration guidelines should ensure equitable land allocation that enhances the productive capacity.
Land laws to favour both public and private investment for sustainable development with clear compensatory mechanisms for land designated for government protection.
Proper land use management, critical to protection of environment is also very important. Promote integrated soil management to enhance productivity.
Support educational programmes in Institutions of higher learning on land management.
Environment mainstreaming guidelines should be followed up with technical support to ensure adequate integration of the cross-cutting issues in the EDPRS process as well as development of sector strategies.