With the right choices, we can achieve a greener East Africa

Editor, Reference is made to Allan Brian Ssenyonga’s article, “We should all strive for a green East Africa” (The New Times, April 26).
A solar energy facility in Rwamagana District, Eastern Province. (Timothy Kisambira)
A solar energy facility in Rwamagana District, Eastern Province. (Timothy Kisambira)

Editor,

Reference is made to Allan Brian Ssenyonga’s article, “We should all strive for a green East Africa” (The New Times, April 26).

Excellent opinion piece Mr. Ssenyonga! Just to complement, there are other groundbreaking efforts for adapting Rwanda’s rapidly growing economy to continue in the path of “green” growth. It means being resource efficient in economic (and lifestyle) activities: producing more with less resources such as water and energy; catching and using rainwater and less of expensively treated water; and using more renewable energy such as solar and biogas.

Some big and small manufacturing and service industries are already practising these more profitable and environmentally sustainable approaches.

It also means economic activities that do not pollute the air with carbon-dioxide that has caused climate change. We all can’t wait for the results of ongoing efforts to add more electricity on the national grid, that would help phase out diesel-powered generators.

Our economy must also take into account the effects of climate change that are causing severe weather changes, manifested in more violent winds, floods, landslides, droughts in drier areas, among others.

It means that our roads and other infrastructure must have retainers in landslide-prone areas, flood-proof bridges, etc. Drier areas should be able to harvest rainwater to take them through droughts.

Denis Rugege

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I fully subscribe to all these ways of keeping and enhancing our green heritage.

We must organise the use of our natural environment and its vital resources in ways that sustain our ecological balance. It is possible, for instance, to increase the yield of our soil naturally through more efficient use of water, curtailing of soil erosion, and greater use of natural fertilisers, improvements in crop rotation and consolidation of agricultural land, substantial reductions in post-harvest wastage, and greater extension services and other forms of support to our agricultural sector.

The dangers we face are those well-funded promoters of the siren songs of GMOs as the alleged solution to a manufactured deadly hunger in Africa. These people have even gone as far as claiming those who are opposed to their poison should be seen as “génocidaires” because they are purportedly resisting a panacea to hunger that they claim to be taking African children’s lives at the same rate as genocide.

These people are such snake-oil hustlers that they are prepared to use all manner of hyperbole to get their way. Let me tell them: We in Rwanda know what real genocide is, and it isn’t refusing to have GMOs pushed down our throats.

This so-called miracle technology is as miraculous as plastics and asbestos once were. And we know what we eventually saw these so-called miracles to be: cancer-causing and environment-degrading vehicles.

Yes to greening our environment. No to snake-oil salesmen trying to sell us miracles that destroy our ecological balance and hand our food security (through single use seeds whose copyrights they control) into the hands of multinationals whose only motive is to maximize their own profits. The precautionary principle requires that we look very prudently at what these companies are pushing on us allegedly for our own good!

Am I too suspicious and on my guard? You bet! Since when did we get such selfless gift s from the West since we encountered them?

Mwene Kalinda

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