Across equatorial and east Africa, climate change is affecting the frequency, intensity and variability of regional climate patterns.1 Changes in rainfall patterns, temperatures and storm intensity are having significant effects on national economies, regional infrastructure, land use and local livelihoods. These changes are forcing national and local governments to adjust and adapt how they plan, prepare and implement day to day operations today and larger visions for the future. The ability of governmental policies and programs to address challenges from climate change will ultimately determine how economies grow and how social welfare and the environment are preserved and protected.
In Rwanda, climate change impacts are forcing the government to integrate adaptation measures to ensure that its environment, its economy, and, most importantly, its people are able to withstand the negative effects of floods, storms and droughts. Within the last two decades, and even more so in recent years, Rwanda has included climate change adaptation elements into some land use policies, regulations, programs and national growth strategies, although these elements are often weak and lack substantive direction or mandate for land use planners and managers. Additionally, since the implementation of those policies is, in many cases, too recent to determine how effective they are at reducing risks and vulnerabilities to climate change, there still exist opportunities for Rwanda to learn from the performance of matured policies, strengthen current adaptation approaches, adopt best practices from regional examples sharing similar experiences, and better integrate climate change adaptation interventions across governmental action.
This policy brief will: examine key impacts of climate change in Rwanda, assess the performance and implementation of climate change adaptation measures in land use policy frameworks and suggest key recommendations that could strengthen Rwanda’s land use policies to better integrate climate change adaptation measures.