GGGI District Technical Assistants (DTA’s) lead the Awareness raising workshop for the environmental protection committee’s members

Rwanda Environment Managament Authority in collaboration  with GGGI Rwanda through the implementation of the the GCF Readiness & Preparatory Support Project to capacitate Rwanda’s Subnational Level Actors in Green Growth & Climate Change Resilience organized training workshops for Environmental Committees members in secondary cities.  The training workshop was for Environmental Committees members from Nyagatare District , Huye District ,Rusizi District ,Muhanga District  to discuss their roles, responsibilities & expectations towards an effective functionality of the committees.  Rwanda has recognized the importance of environment & climate change considerations to achieve sustainable development. It is in this regard that different policies, strategies, legal & regulatory frameworks were established to guide management of environment & natural resources. Prime Minister’s Order No 008/03 of 26/04/2021 governing environmental protection committees & their members is adopted to enhance awareness & coordination on environmental protection & #climatechange aspects through established committees at all local gov’t admin levels.  GGGI DTA that lead the training were Diane Umukunzi Uyambaje , Richard Ndicunguye and Nsengiyumva Theogene.

Huye Secondary City

Attendees included Jean Luc Rukwaya/Environment Climate Change Education Officer /REMA  ;Butera Martin/District Environmental Protection Officer ;Ignace Kamugisha/Hygiene and Sanitation Officer ;Bartin Mukiza/Land Admninistrator: Redempta Bakundukize, NWC Coordinator: Joyce Manishimwe/NYC Coordinator ;  Thierry Nkurunziza/PSF Coordinator ; Felicite kambayire/District Council Focal Point for Climate Change ;Uwumukiza Marie Jeanne/District Council Specialist ;Gilbert Maniraho/JADF Delegate for Environment and Climate Change

The opening Remarks were made by Martin Butera, District Environmental Officer. He started thanking REMA, MoE and GGGI for organizing this workshop and participants for they presence; saying that this is one of the factors that will contribute to the sustainability of the District. He therefore opened the workshop calling upon for active participation, hoping that it will serve as booster towards effective operation of the Committee. Mr. Richard Ndicunguye, The District Technical Assistant, also provided his remarks on behalf of GGGI informing that this workshop was organized as part of the key activities under GCF Readiness and Preparatory Support Project in Rwanda that aims at building the capacity of subnational level actors in Green Growth and Climate Change. It is also part of many activities that GGGI has been doing to suppport the Country and Secondary Cities achieving Green Growth. He also thanked the participants for their presence in the workshop assuring that this will be a continued collaboration.

Mr. Jean Luc Rukwaya who was representing REMA also provided his remarks highlighting that this workshop is organized through one of the collaborations with different stakeholders, hence thanking GGGI for the collaboration and support for this to be realized. He also pointed out that environment is a cross-cutting matter, meaning that different thematic sectors should consider integrating environment in their frameworks.

Presentation on environment protection background Environmental Committees in Rwanda by Jean Luc Gakwaya

After presentations, following have been comments and recommendations from the participants:

Participants raised a concern about facilitation means that would help the Committees to effectively operate. As an alternative solution, committees would collaborate with the District, stakeholders, development partners and use available means. Participants discussed on how the Committees shall be working hand in hand with other staff whose daily duties have to do with the responsibilities of the environmental committees. After presentation and discussions, participants were given questions for discussion in groups. Participants of the workshop also voted the leaders who will be leading the committee as follow:

  1. President: Cyprien Uwamurera (Representing NGOs)
  2. Vice president: Redempta Bakundukize (NWC Representative)
  3. Secretary: Martin Butera (District Environmental Officer)

In closing some of the participants were given time to express their feelings after the workshop. Mrs. Joyce Manishimwe, District youth representative said “This workshop play a big role on my side as it raised awareness with regard to environment and climate change. I am honored to be part of this committee, and I will use this channel to spread the message across the youth and the wider community and advocate for environmental protection towards achieving sustainable development.

It was agreed that the way Forward is , to establish the environmental committees at sector and cell levels.

Rusizi Secondary City:

The opening Remarks were made by Mr. Richard Ndicunguye, District Senior Assistant/GGGI who was coordinating the workshop, started welcoming the participants and explaining the reason of the workshop as well as the role of GGGI in this. Mr. Valens Habimana, the District Environmental Management Officer, who was representing the District Authorities, also provided his opening remarks thanking REMA, MoE and GGGI for organizing such an important workshop which will play a role in boosting the environmenatl committees to operate. He therefore opened the workshop, calling upon for active participation. Mr. Jean Luc Rukwaya also provided his remarks by thanking the participants for their presence despite their many duties. He also thanked GGGI for the contribution to the realization of this workshop and other many more activities they do to suppport the Country’s sustainable development. He therefore continued with the presentation on the background of environmental protection framework in Rwanda, as well as the status, roles and responsibilities of the environmental protection committees at District, Sector and Cell.

Discussions and Recommendations:

– Participants of the workshop asked about the issue of water pollution that is caused by the neighboring countries and affect Rwanda. As a recommendation, this issue would be solved through cooperation between countries.

– Participants requested for a brief note and other documents about environmental committees that shall serve as a guiding tool for them.

– Participants asked for clarification on the working framework and coordination between District, Sectors and Cells committees.

– Financial means to support the functionality of the committees was also discussed in order to identify possible solutions, and among the identified ones include District revenues, development partners, NGOs/CBOs, etc

The closing Remarks were made by the PSF representative: “I have learned a lot in this workshop, and came to realize that PSF can actually contribute into a lot in regard to environmental protection. A lot of appreciation to the organizing stakeholders; we shall put all our efforts to make our committee operational”.

– NWC representative: “As a woman, through this workshop, I came to realize that women can contribute to environmental protection as they are the ones always attached to environment. Therefore, I shall take this message to my fellow women and families, and will play our role in the committee to perform our duties. The District Council representative: “I am grateful and honored to have participated in this workshop which opened my mind to see that, actually different people from different organs can contribute towards the protection and sustainability of our environment. As a member of the District Council, I will take this message to the Council, and will advocate so that these committees can at least get a little as facilitations to handle their responsibilities”.

It was agreed that the way forward would be establishing the environmental committees at sector and cell levels and to generate toolkits that shall help committees members mastering their roles and responsibilities, and building the capacity of the entire District communities.

Muhanga Secondary City:

The opening remarks were made by the Vice Mayor ED, and he pointed out that the workshop was much needed as it serves as a booster for the Committee to play a key role in the protection and management of our environment. Environmental has been a major concern over the past years given that our land, infrastructure and natural resources are degraded on a daily basis. For instance, Muhanga District has been facing with challenges related to land degradation due to Landslides and soil erosion; water resources contamination due to illegal mining and quarry; forests degradation; etc; Therefore the Committee will support addressing all these issues He thanked REMA, MoE and GGGI for the continuous collaboration and support to the District in addressing environmental matters across different sectors. When discussing the responsibilities of the Environmental Committees, he emphasized on the need to organize Awareness Campaigns such as environmental weeks, where the Committee would play a big role in informing the wide communities on the role of environmental conservation. He also pointed out further interventions from different stakeholders such as advocacy where the Committee would require different interventions for it to properly perform their duties. He concluded assuring for a continued collaboration with GGGI, REMA, MoE and other stakeholders, in hope that this workshop will be followed by other activities towards a sustained platform for the environmental committees to deliver.

The Vice Mayor Concluded his remarks thanking once again the organizers and participants of the workshop and officially opened the workshop. Mr Richard Ndicunguye/GGGI thanked the Vice Mayor for joining the workshop and for the provided remarks, and assured for a continued collaboration. He informed the participants that this workshop was organized as one of the activities to be delivered under GCF Readiness and Preparatory Support Project in Rwanda with the aim of capacitating the Country’s subnational level actors in green growth and climate resilience. Mr Luc Rukwaya /REMA also thanked the Vice Mayor and participants of the workshop for the attendance, which is a starting point for the committee to effectively operate. He also underlined that environment of a cross-cutting subject where all sectors and stakeholders need to collaborate to achieve the desired goal. He also once again thanked GGGI for the great role they play in Rwanda to ensure that the Country’s economy develops in respect to the environment through different initiatives including this one.

Presentation by Luc
– Presented on the subjects such as the Background of Environmental Protection through Legal and regulatory frameworks, Ecosystem services, and Emerging environmental challenges. The background was followed by the presentation on the Status, roles and responsibilities of Environmental Committees.

During the Q& A Session :
– Participants discussed on the issue about single use plastics trying to find out sustainable solutions. Among the proposed solutions include awareness raising on the use of reusable materials, recycling and use of Green Procurement.

– Participants also asked about the operation framework of the inspection teams against illegal activities that degrade the environment.

– Participants also discussed on the Climate vulnerability matter where different indicators determine the level of adaptability and sensitivity.

– Participants asked about the means for the committees to perform their duties. They therefore recommended that, if possible, to be highlighted in the regulatory framework.

Participants also provided some recommendations as follow:
1. Muhanga as a Satellite City to make a follow up on the consideration of Climate Proofing while providing construction permits and other infrastructure development.

2. The review and assessment of EIA should be decentralized given that it is sometimes difficult for the central level to handle t.

It was agreed that the way forward would be the election of the chairman and Vice Chairman of the District Committee to have a fully functional committee and  establishing the environmental committees at cell and sector levels.


Nyagatare Secondary City:

Matsiko Gonzague -Vice Mayor in charge of Economic Development introduced the meeting welcoming the participants to the awareness raising workshop and He pointed out the importance of the voice of Environmental Protection committee’s members in dealing with environmental issues and challenges that Nyagatare District usually face with, specifically in the sectors of Forest and Mining exploitation where He shared some example cases including the young trees cutting for construction and firewood for cooking as well environmental problems resulting from mining activities by people looking for sands and stones to be used in their different construction projects.

Rukwaya Jean Luc – Environmental and Climate Change Education Officer presented to the participants an overview on why environmental protection matters most where He highlighted the article 53 of the Republic of Rwanda’s Constitution of 2003 revised in 2015, on the protection of the Environment stipulating that everyone has everyone has the duty to protect, safeguard and promote the environment and the state, to ensure environmental protection. He also provided an overview on how Environment is given an important consideration, both Nationally (by the adoption of the 1st environmental Policy of 2003, which has been revised to become the environment and climate change policy in 2018) and Globally (by its consideration in the 6-7 and 12-15 Goals of the SDGs on Water, Energy, Sustainable Consumption and Production, Climate Change, Oceans and Ecosystems). With some examples, Jean Luc explained different categories of the ecosystem services, which refers by definition to all the benefits people obtain from ecosystem specifically (1) the provisioning ecosystem services (Food, fodder, building materials), (2) regulating ecosystem services (Water quality, Hydrological regulation, climate regulation, storm protection), (3) Cultural ecosystem services (Recreational/aesthetic values, tourism, religious values), and supporting ecosystem services (Soil formation, habitat provision). Among the challenges presented by Jean Luc to participants included (1) the degradation of water bodies, (2) wetland degradation, and the (3) violation of the required distance to be respected when developing and development activities around environmental sensitive and protected areas, etc. He furthermore explained to participants the fundamental principles governing the environmental protection namely the (1) precautionary principle, (2) principle of environmental principle, (3) Polluter pays principle, (4) principle of information dissemination and incentives for environmental conservation, the (5) principle of cooperation.

He also explained to participants that the ecological footprint which refers to a measure of Human impact on earth’s ecosystems, compares the amount of resources we consume with the planet earth’s ecological capacity regenerate. He added that we hence need to measure our nature’s capacity in meeting the demand from the rising population and global consumption to ensure that our generation will also benefit from the resources we have today.

From the group discussion made on gaps and challenges behind the environmental problems in Nyagatare included the gap in the Environmental laws, especially at their level of details where for example People with forests that have less than 1Ha can exploit their forests without asking for permission, while this later exception exposes young trees on small forests at risk of being exploited before their maturity.

The case for the mining activities, it has also been discussed that sometimes people find by chance some construction raw materials such as sands or rocks into their own small plots and engage/decide themselves into exploiting them without requesting for authorization to do so or even when they get a permission, they tend to go beyond the authorized area and guidelines. To this concern, the District Environmental Officer reminded the participants that the land beneath 20cm (Under fertile soils) is for the Government, meaning that no one has the right to deeply dig the land on his/her plot in search for raw materials without the permission from the authorized entities. From the same group of participants, some strategic solutions were highlighted including the enforcement of environmental laws implementation by involving security organs such the Police and RIB in the Inspection of environmental laws and regulations implementation after realizing that a low consideration is sometimes attributed to environmental crimes/cases by those security organs. Murenzi Samuel, the District Environmental officer shared some cases where people get caught into environmental crimes such as cutting indigenous trees in Umuvumba wetland (Imikinga) and once He punishes them with legal fines and a lawful imprisonment, they never stay into jails for a period provided by the law as it is the cases for other people who commit those other crimes like stealing their neighbors. Rukwaya Jean Luc, Environmental and Climate Change Education Officer explained that at least one Police and one RIB staff has be trained so far at District level by REMA and express a hope to go further in training other security staffs. Much attention has also been paid on the needed large Community awareness raising campaigns where Participants provided an example of Karangazi Bridge, where People’s cows drink dirty water from moto cycles being directly washed from that specific area located in that karangazi wetland, which is a sign that though some rich local businesspeople violate environmental laws willingly(informed on the consequences/punishments from their negative practices), another large number of People are not informed about environment and their responsibilities in protecting their surrounding environmental elements(wetlands, water, forests, soils, etc.).

From this concern, Tumukunde Chantal Josephine, the Economic Commission Council representative emphasized that there is a need to increase effort for raising the community awareness referring to Her experience from Kigali where She shared a story on How People in this Kigali City can spend a day with an empty plastic bottle in His/Her hands until He/She finds an appropriate place like a street dustbin for an appropriate disposal of such plastic bottle wastes. The awareness raising through physical meetings and the local radio (RBA-Nyagatare) is needed to have a community with environmental protection mindset, she concluded.

It was agreed that the way forward would be:
The Environmental Protection Committee’s members committed set some key activities they are going to immediately put into actions to ensure their active operation in implementing their roles and responsibilities on protecting environment:
• Election of the chairman and Vice Chairman of the District Committee to have a fully functional committee
• Establishing the environmental committees at cell and sector levels by May 2-5, 2022
• Electing the expert on environment and climate change members nominated by the District, Sector, and cell council by 30th May 2022
• Training the environmental protection committees at all cells and sector levels by July 2022
• Conducting inspections on environmental laws implementation by August-October 2022
• Community awareness campaigns on environmental laws through RBA-Nyagatare radio and community Physical meetings.