Rwanda: Calls for More Research to Fight Climate Change

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Experts in Rwanda are calling for more research and innovation in the country’s battle against climate change.

Data from the Ministry for Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs (MIDIMAR) shows at least 81 people died between January and May 9 due to heavy rain and landslides. A further 74 people were injured, more than 1,300 houses destroyed and over 1,500 hectares of crops damaged – prompting calls for better counter-procedures.

 

Experts meet at international conference

Experts met at the 3rd international conference on environment, energy, disaster and development (ICEED 2016) on Thursday to discuss the issue. Antoine Ruvebana, the Permanent Secretary at MIDIMAR said there are 11 types of disaster in Rwanda, with flooding, landslides, fire and drought being the most prevalent.

However, he insists more can be done to prevent the damage caused by such disasters, while suggesting adverse weather conditions could even be used to combat other issues facing the country:

“What causes disasters can also benefit the country’s economy once well harnessed,” he said. “If there is prolonged dry spell that cause drought, it can be used to generate solar power; if there is too much water that carries away our houses, it can be trapped to irrigate crops.”

 

Extensive research needed

For a more innovative approach to tackling climate change, experts admit the need for extensive research to help find new solutions. Director General for Science, Technology and Research at the Ministry of Education, Dr Marie-Christine Gasingirwa, said research efforts need to be increased.

“Through research, you are able [to] predict. In collaboration, through research and information sharing everywhere, you can establish a pattern, you can be able to predict and then prepare for disasters that are to come, for disaster mitigation and management,” she said.

Vincent de Paul Kabalisa, the Head of Water Resources Department at the Rwanda Natural Resources Authority (RNRA) echoed this sentiment, claiming new technologies will be fundamental to minimising the damage caused by climate change and natural disasters.

“Our farmers need technology that will allow them to maintain water in their fields for long period[s] so that their crops can get water even in the dry season,” he said.

 

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