Rwanda’s natural resources are under increasing pressure due to population growth, urbanisation and the national drive for development. In a bid to ensure coordinated management and development of water, land and related resources to maximise economic and social welfare without compromising sustainability, the Government of Rwanda (GoR) has introduced the Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) approach.
In May 2015, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the GoR and the Embassy of the Kingdom of Netherlands to put in place Water for Growth Rwanda (W4G) – a four-year initiative. Implemented by Euroconsult Mott Macdonald, SNV and SHER, W4G aims to improve the management of water resources in Rwanda in order to contribute to sustainable socio-economic development and equitably improved livelihoods.
To achieve this, W4G is working with the Ministry of Natural Resources (MINIRENA) to improve policy around water and land management in Rwanda, strengthen relevant institutions, build staff capacity in IWRM, grow and share the knowledge base around water and land management in Rwanda, and build investment in integrated water resources management through the €18-million IWRM Investment Fund.
As part of the key events for the national water week 2016, the programme was officially launched on 24th March 2016 in Muhanga district where over 1,000 residents joined national and international dignitaries to plant bamboo in a bid to combat river bank erosion.
The launch was officiated by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Natural Resources, Fatina Mukarubibi who noted that the programme will promote the integrated water resources management approach which is key to sustainable use of Rwanda’s water resources. “Most of our water resources are challenged by siltation and water bank erosion, among other issues. This increases the cost of water treatment for household use. I believe that W4G will help improve the management of water resources in Rwanda,” she said.
Addressing thousands at the event, the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Netherlands to Rwanda, Frédérique de Man also said that W4G Rwanda is a result of the great partnership between Rwanda and the Netherlands. She noted that the Netherlands had made great milestones and success stories in the integrated water resources management approach, adding that through this new programme, there would be an opportunity of practical learning, hence evident results in the field.
To demonstrate the value of the IWRM approach across a range of geographic and socio-economic contexts, W4G is working across four pilot catchments – Muvumba, Upper Nyabarongo, Nyabugogo, and Sebeya – to demonstrate governance frameworks and develop land and water management solutions tailored to their specific contexts.
As part of project implementation, the W4G plans to develop catchment plans for the demonstration areas. The programme has introduced Strategic Environmental Assessment in the process of developing catchment plans with the support of the Netherlands Commission for Environmental Assessment.
In the first half of 2016, scoping workshops have been held for all the four demonstration catchment areas. A first draft Catchment Characterisation Report was developed in January 2016 and Catchments Task Forces have been established and are composed of selected representatives from the District Hydrographic Basin Committees of all districts within a catchment.
The scoping workshops, conducted between March and June, resulted among others in a vision for the catchment, an overall objective, specific objectives, a prioritised overview of main issues and opportunities and a number of development alternatives.
1st IWRM conference
W4G in collaboration with the Ministry of Natural Resources organised the first annual conference in IWRM under the theme “Measure water to know water to manage water.” The conference attracted over 300 participants from Rwanda and beyond. The high level event that was held at the University of Rwanda, College of Medicine and Health Sciences is the first of its kind and was organised alongside a colorful exhibition. SNV was among the organisations that participated in the exhibition.
Media tour 2016
As part of ongoing efforts to showcase the need for implementation of the IWRM approach at all levels, W4G supported MINIRENA to organise a three-day media tour in March 2016 to Sebeya catchment. The tour aimed at increasing awareness on the issues in the catchments and sensitising the population on practices that must change, such as environmental pollution and degradation. W4G and MINIRENA also briefed the 20 journalists from various media houses on the IWRM approach as the best way to utilise available water resources sustainably.