As they are across much of Africa, smallholder farms are linchpins of Rwandan society and its economy. That encompasses the preservation and updating of traditional values, beliefs, and attitudes regarding use of landscapes, water, and other natural resources that are in keeping with global UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Reaching out to residents throughout society, Rwanda's Green Fund, FONERWA, is enlisting and empowering Rwandans to collaborate in the origination and implementation of projects that enhance climate change resilience, create employment and set a foundation for ongoing sustainable community development.
Established in 2013 with backing from a host of multilateral development agencies, FONERWA is the largest fund of its kind in Africa. To date, the Green Fund has enabled nearly 60,000 Rwandans to take part in a wide range of sustainable development projects. Some involve planting trees as part of agroforestry projects. Others include building off-grid solar and other renewable energy systems that provide reliable, affordable electricity to communities that may never have had it before. More than 6,800 Rwandan households now have access to electricity thanks to FONERWA's investments in such projects.
Rwanda's Green Fund
FONERWA issued its ninth public call for proposals this week. In this current request for proposal period, native Green Fund managers are targeting projects aligned with key economic sectors, including agriculture, energy, transport, urban and rural settlement, water and sanitation, aimed at enhancing environmental protection, climate change mitigation or adaptation and green growth.
FONERWA has mobilized $100 million in financial capital for climate change resilience in Rwanda. More than 720 local stakeholders are involved in FONERWA projects. Nearly 60,000 Rwandans have been employed in developing them, a testament to the economic benefits investing in climate change resilience can yield.
Tree planting and agroforestry projects spanning nearly 22,000 hectares of land have been carried out, protecting 8,572 hectares of watersheds and bodies of water. Soil conservation projects that help prevent erosion of valuable arable land spanning 12,907 hectares have been completed.
Size and scale aren't necessarily determining factors in FONERWA's project investment decisions. The Green Fund has financed and assisted native project developers in carrying out projects across a wide range of scales, from about Rwf450 million ($585,000) as high as Rwf3 billion ($3.9 billion) per project.
Prerequisites for success, project proposals should involve multiple stakeholders, be replicable, scalable, and designed so as to improve socioeconomic conditions while protecting the mountainous African country's natural capital.
As Green Fund coordinator Alex Mulisa explained to the Rwanda New Times: “Climate mainstreaming is about ensuring that the environment and climate change are at the core of our development plans, policies and strategies. We want to invest in initiatives that bring all stakeholders to the table to incorporate sustainability and green growth into a sector’s development.”
“By bringing everyone on board, we know the return on investment for Rwanda’s socio-economic development and natural environment will be immense.”
The application period for FONERWA's current project investment round is open until Sept. 14. Those interested can obtain all the necessary documents and apply online via the organization's website.
*Image credits: FONERWA