At least 60,000 households in the Districts of Nyanza, Gisagara, Kamonyi and Ruhango are set to be provided with improved and energy-efficient cooking stoves with capacity to reduce firewood wood by more than 50% compared to traditional stoves. The distribution started last week with 4,000 cook stoves in the Mugina sector of Kamonyi District. In total, 11,000 improved cook stoves will be distributed in four sectors of Kamonyi District under the 2020/2021 financial year namely Mugina, Nyamiyaga, Nyarubaka, and Rugarika. The remaining Districts which include Gisagara, Nyanza and Ruhango will start receiving the same cook stoves in 2021/2022 financial year. According to Philbert Nkurunziza, Green Amayaga Project Coordinator, these cook stoves will also contribute to socio-economic development of beneficiaries, since thanks to their efficiency to save energy and time, beneficiaries will get the opportunity to do other income generating activities. “The cook stoves will also contribute to restoration of the natural forests,” he said. Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA) said that the degradation had been caused by due to agriculture activities, wood exploitation and settlement, illegal hunting, clay mining and logging, bee-keeping and charcoal burning all which have also decimated wildlife. The move to reduce pressure to natural forests and forest plantations in the region is part of six-year $32.7m project to restore 263,000 hectares of degraded forests including 555 hectares of Kibirizi-Muyira as well as the Busoga natural forest reserves that make 0.14% of Rwanda’s total national natural forests The initiative aims to rehabilitate 263,000 hectares of agricultural land and scale up agro-forestry on 25,000 hectares as well as increasing productivity on 1,000 hectares of forest plantations that make 10% of the planted forest. Reduction of five million tons of emissions The distribution of 60,000 improved cook stoves, REMA says, will contribute to reduce about five million tons of greenhouse gas emissions meaning 15 million tonnes in the next 20 years compared to the air pollutants currently being experienced in Rwanda. The green project is set to benefit 1.3 million beneficiaries including 362,000 direct beneficiaries as well as 150,000 green jobs in restoring degraded forests and land. At least 51.3 per cent of the project beneficiaries will be women, and the majority will be young Rwandans. Studies show that, between 1990 and 2010, Rwanda lost 37 per cent of its forest cover due to forest degradation. In 2011, Rwanda became one of the early adopters of the Bonn Challenge – a global effort to bring 150 million hectares of the world’s deforested and degraded land into restoration by 2020, and 350 million hectares by 2030. Rwanda has exceeded the forest cover target of 30 per cent and restoration of degraded land and forests continues under Bonn Challenge.