Experts from Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) have advised government to develop robust strategic plans in the area of drought risk management in order to improve agricultural production and productivity.
The recommendation is contained in a report on the “Economics of Climate Change in Rwanda” that was launched on Wednesday at Top Tower Hotel in Kigali
The report that was funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) said that there was need to prepare for the uncertain future, rather than using uncertainty as a reason for inaction.
In an interview with Tomas E. Downing, Director Oxford Centre said that government needs strong approach on soil management and soil fertility by identifying particular seeds for particular season to assist farmers in making better decisions.
With the report indicating that in 2005 and 2006 one million people were affected by drought, Downing said that managing drought at the firm level is still at a low level.
Agriculture contributes 37 percent to Rwanda’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and employs more than 80 percent of the working population.
The expert also advised government to closely monitor climate change and make data on climate change available if informed decisions are to be made.
Caroline Kayonga, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Mines and Natural Resources said that in order to adapt to the climate change impact, Rwanda has undertaken various activities.
Some of the measure undertaken include improving the management of water resources and promoting improved agricultural techniques.
She said that Rwanda has also introduced crops that are more resistant to the impacts of climate change and is promoting ways to generate income through non-agricultural activities.
“We refuse to be a victim and are acting now, not only to reduce our emissions, but also to adapt to the impact of climate change.
However, until this report was written, we had no concrete facts about the costs of climate change on which to base our actions,” Kayonga said.
It is estimated that climate change could increase the rural population at risk from malaria by 150 percent by 2050, and the disease burden could lead to full economic risks that are over $50m per year.