The “Embedding Integrated Water Resources Management in Rwanda” (EWMR) project allocates 30 million Rwandan francs to pilot the Environment Conservation Fund (CECF) in 10 Villages Savings and Loans Associations in Sebeya Catchment, including Rubavu, Nyabihu, Rutsiro and Ngororero districts.
Uwizeye Belange, the Executive Director of Rwanda Rural Rehabilitation Initiative-RWARRI, an organization that leads this activity under EWMR, said that this fund would promote access to micro-credits for vulnerable rural areas members. Belange clarified that this CECF works by providing money to implement activities that target restoring and managing ecosystems, usually based on an agreed-upon environmental management plan in Sebeya Catchment.
By experience, Belange pointed out that activities that directly contribute to landscape restoration and water resources management, such as tree seedlings production; afforestation; agroforestry; conservation agriculture and on-farm water storage; e.g., infiltration pits; riverbank protection; on-farm sediment traps; use of energy-efficient cookstoves; kitchen garden establishment; local-scale methods for environmentally friendly mining and climate-smart agriculture practices do not get loans from financial institutions. “Under EWMR, the CECF run through Savings and Credit Cooperative Organizations (SACCO), will give loans at a low-fat rate of 5% to any project linked to landscape restoration/ management and water resources management”, he disclosed and added that the loans will be paid back within six months.
On his side, Ribakare Jean Damascene, the Manager of Kanama SACCO in the Rubavu district, admitted that CECF would respond to farmers whose projects were rejected because we’re not matching the SACCO’s conditions to deserve loans. “I remember well a client who wanted to buy a water tank harvesting, but this project did not get money since SACCO team was not convinced on how this project would generate income to pay back the loan”, he argued and added that since the creation off CECF, such projects from selected pilot villages will get SACCOs loans.
The EWMR is a government project implemented by the Rwanda Water Resources Board (RWB), with Technical Assistance (TA) from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the Netherlands Development Organisation (SNV) and the Rwanda Rural Rehabilitation Initiative (RWARRI).