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Natural resources management: Issues and lessons from Rwanda

by Portal Web Editor last modified Jan 10, 2013 09:10 AM
Contributors: Siew Tuan Chew

This USAID evaluation examines USAID/Rwanda collaboration with the government of Rwanda and other donors for management of the country's renewable natural resources. USAID natural resource management support included management of natural forests, wildlife habitats, and marshlands; soil conservation and agroforestry; and dissemination of tree species and other perennials to local communities. Wildlife reserves were established for tourism and research in the Volcanoes and Akagera National Parks. Approximately 40% of the Nyungwe Forest was set aside and fully protected as Forest Reserve while the remainder was to be managed for controlled use on a sustainable basis. Approximately 37,000 ha. were reforested for industrial and community use. The government introduced legislation requiring farmers to adopt soil conservation techniques of composting and infiltration ditches. Socioeconomic constraints discouraged farmers from adopting recommended technologies. Agroforestry technologies to reduce erosion and to produce fodder were broadly adopted in Rwandan farming systems. USAID/Rwanda highlighted two innovative environmental conservation approaches that could be incorporated into an AID agricultural and rural development program: 1) promoting tourism and other nondestructive uses of natural forests in conjunction with wildlife conservation and park management, and 2) promoting agroforestry and fish farming to conserve soil and water resources while increasing farm productivity.The Rwandan government's interest in addressing natural resource management issues was instrumental in creating a supportive policy and institutional environment and in generating donor support. Rwanda's experience of protecting its natural resources suggests three measures that can be incorporated into AID's development programs in other countries: Encourage host country support by funding studies of existing or emerging natural resource issues to heighten awareness and to identify how resource management could be included in development programs; Collaborate with other donors with support from AID centrally funded projects to address complex, multi-sectoral problems; Develop intervention programs ranging from on-farm agroforestry, soil conservation, and water management to projects covering large areas that integrate conservation with development.

Author(s): Siew Tuan Chew

Publication Date: 1990

Location: Africa, Rwanda

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