Rwf5bn project to promote clean cooking in Rwanda

Forest harvesting in Gakenke District. Wood remains the most source of energy for cooking in Rwanda. Sam Ngendahimana.

A new project is in the pipeline through which up to €5 million (Rwf5 billion) will be sunk in boosting Rwanda’s efforts to reduce deforestation by promoting clean cooking, officials have said.

The project, which is to be funded by the European Union through its initiative “Global Climate Change Alliance Plus”, was announced during the ongoing conference on climate finance that started in Kigali yesterday.

The funds will increase the use of improved or clean cooking stoves among Rwandan population through local production and dissemination of efficient cooking devices and the production of sustainable local biomass fuel.

It will also give beneficiaries of the project an opportunity to adopt more affordable cooking technologies that are better adapted to their needs.

Coletha Ruhamya, the Director-General of Rwanda Management Authority (REMA) said that the initiative targets to reduce the number of wood and charcoal fuel used by the population.

Government targets to reduce the use of firewood and charcoal from 83.3 per cent to 42 per cent by 2024.

“As wood and charcoal is becoming expensive besides health risks, efforts to reduce their use must be strengthened,” he said.

People should embrace cooking gas and where it is not possible, they have to opt for improved cooking stoves to reduce dependency on wood fuel,” he said.

Currently a sack of charcoal is costing at least Rwf13,000 from around Rwf7,000 in the past five years.

She explained that charcoal and firewood prices have increased because trees are not enough compared to the population growth rate.

Studies show that between 1990 and 2010, Rwanda lost 37 per cent of its forest cover due to high dependency on wood fuel for cooking.

Rwanda seeks to restore two million hectares of degraded land by 2020.

Dr Vincent Biruta, Rwanda’s Minister of Environment said the European Union has also supported a land titling system through a project worth €9.5 million and so far 11 million parcels of land have been registered.

“This is certainly strengthening climate smart investments by farmers across the country,” he said.

Officials said that with the Rwf5 billion support from the European Union, the government is going to select priority areas threatened by deforestation.

“While a recent survey indicates that we have achieved the target of 30 per cent forest coverage in Rwanda, far too many people continue to depend on biomass for cooking. This is hampering our efforts to rehabilitate our lands and best utilise our forest resources,” the minister said.

“It is also negatively impacting the health of Rwandans, especially women and children. Related to this, is the continued loss of fertile soil due to land degradation and erosion.”

While a number of programmes have successfully reforested degraded areas and implemented soil erosion control measures, he said an increase in extreme weather events is undermining these efforts.

“Public and private climate finance is predominantly invested in mitigation interventions. We must balance this investment so that adaptation plays a greater role,” he said.

EU Ambassador to Rwanda, Nicola Bellomo said that Global Climate Change Alliance Plus initiative continues to focus on the most vulnerable countries, and has added mitigation to its scope of support, to encourage even the poorest to pursue development pathways that are clean, resource-efficient, socially inclusive, and long-lasting.

The alliance will have delivered €750 million budget in climate finance by 2020 to the world’s most vulnerable countries to climate change especially in the least developed countries and Small Islands Developing States whereby 31 African countries have benefitted as two-thirds of the funds are dedicated to African projects.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com