Reducing Vulnerability to Climate Change by Establishing Early Warning and Disaster Preparedness Systems and Support for Integrated Watershed Management in Flood Prone Areas

What is the project about

 UNDP contributing to reduce vulnerability in floods prone areas by the river banks

Rwanda is characterized by mountainous landscapes, which are recognized as particularly vulnerable ecosystems to climate change. Running along the country in a north-south axis there is a mountain chain that forms part of the divide between the Nile and Congo watersheds, two of Africa’s largest. The Congo basin is made up of short waterways leading to Lake Kivu. The Nile basin covers almost all of the country. Most of the rivers start from the slopes of the Nile-Congo watershed crest, from within the Gishwati ecosystem. The ecology of this ecosystem is very dynamic and complex and the lakes and rivers constantly change their size and shape according to rainfall and the resulting river flow. Rainfall in this ecosystem can be heavy, measuring up to 66 mm per day , which often results in violent floods.

Geographic focus:          

The project intervention area includes regions within the crest area of Nile-Congo basins, also categorized as the Gishwati ecosystem, identified through the National Adaptation Plan of Action (NAPA) process as being among the most vulnerable to climate change. Implementation of project activities focusses on four districts namely: Nyabihu, Rubavu, Ngororero and Rutsiro Districts in Western province of Rwanda.

What the project is about:

The overall objective of this project is to increase and enhance adaptive capacity to address the additional risks posed by climate change to the development of Rwanda, with special focus on reducing the vulnerability of the Gishwati ecosystem in the Cogo-Nile crest watershed and of those who derive their livelihoods from it.  The project proposes to do so by promoting and demonstrating Integrated Watershed Management practices, by increasing ecosystem resilience against climate shocks, by increasing the capacity to detect climate patterns and by creating the early warning and disaster preparedness systems which enable the country to disseminate information necessary to prepare for foreseen extreme events and manage them better.

The project is consistent with findings in the Initial national Communication (INC), completed in September 2005 and fits well within other national strategies e.g. Vision 2020 and EDPRS I and II. The project also addresses priorities under UNDAP results area 1, Inclusive Economic Transformation and specifically outcome 1.3 which states that Rwanda has in place improved systems for: sustainable management of the environment, natural resources and renewable energy resources, energy access and energy security, to achieve greater environmental and climate change resilience in line with Rio+20 recommendations on Sustainable Development.

Expected outcomes:

The project has four outcomes. UNDP leads in outcome 3 while UNEP leads in outcomes 1, 2 and 4.

1) Early Warning Systems for climate change risk in Gishwati Ecosystem developed.

2) Climate change risk incorporated into Nyabihu district development planning.

3) The adverse effects of floods and droughts reduced in the Nile-Congo crest watersheds (Nyabarongo and Sebeya rivers) and Gishwati ecosystem.

4) Knwledge of good practices to reduce vulnerability to climate change based on the Gishwati pilot, improved.

Implementing partners:

The project is implemented by Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA) in collaboration with other government institutions such as; Rwanda Agricultural Board, Rwanda Meteorology Agency among others.

Outcome 3 achievements so far:

· So far, a total of 1,092.12ha of fragile and degraded land has been rehabilitated in the four districts as follows: Ngororero; 344.12ha, Nyabihu; 309, Rubavu; 300ha, Rutsiro; 139ha.

· A training module on climate change with practical examples of activities about climate change adaptation extracted from LDCF project has been developed in national language Kinyarwanda and distributed to the stakeholders and interested parties in the project area.

· Additionally 100ha of graded terraces for erosion control have been constructed in Nyabihu district.

· 33km of Muhembe river bank has also been protected with bamboo trees in Ngororero district.

· Another 25ha of Nyamukongoro river watershed have been protected upstream of Karago Lake in addition of 10km of bamboo trees (80,200) seedlings planted along the same river to protect watershed surrounding Karago lake.

· About 8,000 Avacado trees have been grafted and given to community for planting in Ngororero and 7,000 fruit trees produced in Rubavu and handed to 50 households. 3,200 of passion fruit seedlings have been produced and given to families in Rutsiro for planting.

· Capacity of local communities in the above mentioned districts to mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change has been boasted with a total of 782 persons trained on tree nursery establishment, fruit trees grafting and cultivation techniques of horticulture and forestry trees.

· Alternative livelihood options for the local communities as adaptation measures have been designed and implementation has started. These activities include: mushroom and poultry projects in Nyabihu and establishment of a veterinary pharmacy in Rutsiro.


Who finances it








UNDP Track fund


Government of Rwanda (in-kind)


UNDP’s Rwanda AAP project




Total expenditures

Year Amount 
2011 USD 87,540.36
2010 USD 10,429.05

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