Efforts to encourage green growth and sustainable development have got a boost following an announcement by the Ministry of Natural Resources to develop part of the City of Kigali as model green city. According to officials plans are already underway to develop one urban area of city into a model for green cities that will be replicated by other Rwandan cities to ensure green urbanisation and resilient cities.
Speaking to Business Times last week, Dr Vincent Biruta, the Minister for Natural Resources, said the green model area would be located in Kinyinya, Gasabo District, adding that the initiative would later be replicated in other cities saying this is “essential to create cities that are resilient to climate change besides protecting the environment”.
“In line with the green city concept and its practices, our cities must have urban forests, vegetation, embrace proper waste disposal and management as well as practices like harvest of rain water to curb flooding, using green building materials for houses in a way that allows in fresh air in a suitable manner. We will also need to avoid using air conditioners and adapt renewable use, including solar energy,” the minister explained.
Biruta added that under the initiative, urban centres must embrace better waste management like turning waste into revenue-generating ventures such as making of fertilisers and energy production.
“Factories and hotels must operate with the same concept to ensure sustainable use of resources by embracing resource efficient and cleaner production technologies in addition to improved waste management techniques and water recycling.”
He said Rwanda’s model also includes green transport, where some vehicles use rechargeable batteries (electric cars) instead of using oil. The green building concept has already been introduced in Rwanda green building code, the minister noted.
Why green urbanisation
Biruta explained that a green city minimises issues of environmental pollution and general effects of climate change. Businesses in cities that are not resilient have continuously come under threat and have lost millions in floods and landslides among other weather vagaries, according to different reports.
A survey conducted in 2015 by the Institute of Policy Analysis and Research – Rwanda (IPAR Rwanda) on how small businesses in Kigali are being affected in terms of economic costs by recurrent flooding estimated that businesses in Nyabugogo lose about Rwf178.2 million annually due to flooding mainly because the area is not resilient.
Eng Coletha Ruhamya, the Director General of Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA), said there is need for stringent measures to ensure sustainable urbanisation “considering that Rwanda’s annual urban growth rate is 4.5 per cent far exceeding the worldwide average of 1.8 per cent”.
“With increased urbanisation and population growth, we must look at what could affect people’s lives and natural resources. We need strong water and waste management initiatives, and we should also ensure that practices that led to deforestation like charcoal use for cooking in cities are reduced,” Ruhamya said.
The REMA chief revealed that the forthcoming Fifth Environment Outlook report will focus on sustainable urbanisation to support and guide efforts geared toward green urban development in the country. She said while dealing with increasing urbanisation, the transport in cities must be regulated to avoid air pollution, emphasising that there was need to invest more in renewable resources to reduce the challenges.