Rwanda is set to restore the-now degraded Rusizi River Basin thanks to a $50 million fund pledged by the Bezos Earth Fund. The funding was announced during a side event, hosted by Minister of Environment Jeanne d’Arc Mujawariya, alongside a panel discussion on government needs and restoration finance, at the ongoing 27th climate change conference in Egypt. Rusizi basin, which covers a total surface area of 6,057 km², is rich in ecosystems and biodiversity serving as an important pillar of economic development in the basin states, namely Burundi, DR Congo, and Rwanda. The degradation of the basin has been polluting and flooding River Rusizi with soil erosion and landslides, despite the river being used to generate electricity for the three countries. River Rusizi, 117 Kilometres, flows from Lake Kivu to Lake Tanganyika. Rusizi IV Hydropower plant, to be situated on the Ruzizi River between Rwanda and the DR of Congo, will supply 287 MW of electricity to the DR Congo, Burundi, and Rwanda. Great Rift Valley, which is set to also benefit from the funding, is Kenya's most-visited protected area, recognised globally for its high density of herbivores and predators, and the annual migrations of Wildebeest. The site adjoins the Serengeti National Park along the Kenya-Tanzania border and is considered part of the same ecosystem. The Bezos Earth Fund, set to finance the two landscapes restoration, was created by a commitment of $10 billion from American-entrepreneur, Jeff Bezos, to be disbursed as grants within a 10-year period to among others fight climate change and protect nature. Jeff Bezos is an American entrepreneur, media proprietor, investor, computer engineer, and commercial astronaut. He is the founder, executive chairman, and former president and CEO of Amazon. “The Bezos Earth Fund has earmarked $1 billion to be spent on restoration by 2030, and we believe Africa is one of the most important places to start,” said Andrew Steer, President, and CEO of Bezos Earth Fund. Timely funding Experts at COP27 said that the funding is timely for Rwanda, Burundi, and DR Congo considering that, for many years, degradation at the landscape negatively affected the livelihoods of surrounding communities and the development of the countries. The financing announced at the climate conference in Egypt is Bezos Earth Fund’s second tranche of funding for locally-led restoration in Africa. The first was a $15 million direct support of 100 restoration implementers known as the Top 100 cohort. The 100 implementers also include an initiative in Rwanda, by the Albertine Rift Conservation Society (ARCOS), to protect and regenerate thousands of hectares surrounding the degraded Mukura Forest. “The challenge now is to channel and vary finance — from grants to loans to carbon finance — to these pioneering entrepreneurs and community leaders so that Africa’s restoration movement has unstoppable momentum,” Steer added. $2 billion blended finance mechanism At COP27, three financing partners of AFR100 announced major commitments today at COP27 to anchor a $2 billion blended finance mechanism that will build local capacity and make grants and loans available for local communities and entrepreneurs restoring land in Africa. AFR100 is a country-led effort to bring 100 million hectares of land in Africa into restoration by 2030 and Rwanda committed to restoring two million hectares of degraded lands. The initiative is based on the fact that Africa suffers from the highest level of degradation on earth at 65 per cent, leading to food and water insecurity, widespread erosion, limited economic opportunities, and vulnerabilities to climate change. This week, Southbridge Investments, a new AFR100 partner, announced a ground breaking new partnership with AFR100 and the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA), another new partner, to develop a $2 billion fund, aiming to blend $500 million of concessional finance with $1.5 billion private investment to support local restoration efforts across the continent. “Africa is a youthful continent. Faced with crises, it has evolved to be the innovation factory of the earth,” said Frannie Leautier, Senior Partner and CEO of SouthBridge Investments. Sean DeWitt, Director of Global Restoration Initiative at World Resources Institute said this funding will be transformational for locally-led restoration organisations, said “These investments will leverage the power of partnerships between African governments, financiers, and technical experts to support people on the ground who work on small-scale restoration projects, together adding up to the large-scale transformational change in the way landscapes are managed,” he said.