Greenny : Vision

Rwanda on the Quest to Promote Conservation Leadership

By: Nehemie Yesashimwe

Rwanda is a small country but with a huge success in policy implementation. Despite hardships in coping with the highly increasing population on a piece of land of only 26,338 sq km, life improves every day of the year.

Being among a few countries in the world able to manage the ban of nonbiodegradable plastic bags since 2008; and being the only country in the world to have its citizens participate in the monthly Umuganda, Rwanda has defined what conservation leadership really means.

Although climate change exacerbates agricultural losses and pollution, this country seems to have a promising future that is based on a green economy fueled by conservation leaders who are now in the making.

First off, Rwanda’s nickname replicates conservation in itself by being associated with one of the most important environmental figures: mountains. It’s not clear who called Rwanda a country of 1000 hills, but you start to see this as soon as you land here. Even the local inhabitants like me don’t stop to be surprised by the fact that every place in Rwanda is hilly. Rolling mountains are a common thing that people, animals, and automobiles have gotten used to.

These hills are homes to massive forests and innumerable water sources aka streams. It is on the mountain tops where you find the cleanest air. Mount Jali, Mount Rebero and Mount Kigali are among the renowned relaxing, breathtaking destinations. Volcanoes in the North and the Congo-Nile trail in the West play a big role in Rwanda’s conservation leadership through tourism and educational field trips.

I’ve personally had a chance to experience Rwanda’s greenery – 27 years now- and have found it truly remarkable. Yes, it is in this tropical region where a number of diseases and poverty cases appear- in comparison to the temperate regions of developed countries. But it is also where freshness and naturality of life remains. Don’t be surprised to know that Rwanda is one of the coolest and greenest places in the world. Even Forbes magazine confirms this.

Apart from its geologically conserved nature, Rwanda has attracted many local and international conservation interventions including African Leadership University [ALU] and Rwanda Institute of Conservation Agriculture [RICA] that develop conservation leaders through Higher Education in Wildlife management and Agriculture.

In addition to that, Kitabi Eco-Center is a new, fast-growing avenue to note. The center is ncurrently developing interesting models around tourism, organic farming, culture and traditional medicine in the Nyungwe National Park.

Of course one cannot skip the Rwanda environmental museum, probably the only environmental museum in Africa, which highlights the past, present and the future of energy, wildlife conservation, medicinal plants, as well as mineral extraction in the country.

Interestingly, these facilities are dispersed throughout the country in the North, West, Central Kigali, and the South. There is quite a lot to mention but the main point here is that Rwanda has a wonderful trajectory towards sustainability that we should all celebrate as the world’s citizens.

Inasmuch as I’m pursuing the conservation track for the next years of my life, I’m proud of being part of this nation. We can all learn from Rwandans as we struggle to create a climate change-free planet. If Rwanda can do it, then we can all do it.