As the world celebrated the International Day of Forests, the Alliance for Restoration of Forest Ecosystems in Africa-AREECA project implemented partner institutions, including Rwanda Forests Authority-RFA, International Union of Conservation of Nature-IUCN, and Rwanda Rural Rehabilitation Initiative-RWARRI, donated 500 improved cooking stoves of 46,000Rwf each one to 500 beneficiaries to reduce deforestation. The beneficiaries include 250 of Ubudehe categories 1 and 2 living in the Nyamugari sector of Kirehe district and the other 250 residing in the Rwimiyaga sector of Nyagatare district.
As stated by the Acting Director-General of RFA, Mr. Nshimiyimana Spridio, during this event that coincided with tree planting activities in the Nyamugari sector of Kirehe district, invited the communities to adopt new cooking technologies that reduce the use of firewood in households. Failing to reach this goal and continuing using the traditional 3-stone stoves, Mr. Nshimiyimana said that it would accelerate deforestation. Rwanda would be more exposed to climate change effects like increased heat, drought, water shortage, reduced agricultural yields. “It would be a waste of time if we leave our population continues cutting trees for firewood since it will lead to desertification”.
In his speech, Nzirabatinya Modeste, the Vice Mayor in charge of Economics development, stressed that all implementing partner institutions have to work closely to ensure the AREECA’s success which consists of having Kirehe reforested and afforested. “We urge our population to take care of trees when they are planted until they grow up”, he insisted. Then, Mr. Nzirabatinya reminded the audience that the district council established fines charged to anyone who dares to damage trees himself or anyone whose livestock tries to feed these trees. He also advised the beneficiaries of this improved cooking stove to take care of them for the benefit of trees growth. “If taken in good conditions, improved cooking stoves like those received by Nyamugari residents can last up to 7 years”.
Asked about the Nyamugari residents’ role in protecting these trees against animals, Mukamwiza Seraphine, a resident of Nyamugari, revealed that they are the direct beneficiaries of AREECA, especially planted trees and improved cooking stoves received. “We are aware of the importance of having trees and forests in our district. We pledge to protect these trees until they grow up’’.
Currently, nearly 80 percent of Rwandans use firewood for cooking, but by 2024, Rwanda’s target is to have reduced the number to 42 percent for the benefit of environment conservation.
The Alliance for Restoration of Forest Ecosystems in Africa (AREECA) is funded by the International Climate Initiative (IKI) of the German Ministry of the Environment and aims at increasing the socio-economic, ecological, and climate-related benefits from large-scale Forests and Landscape Restoration in Cameroon, Kenya, Malawi, and Rwanda.