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FAO in Rwanda

Enhancing the capacity of Rwanda to report the Green House Gas emissions

Rwandan forests sequestrate more carbon emissions than other activities. ©FAO

From 2 to 6 September 2019, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) organized a training for national experts in the use of Open Foris Collect Earth to monitor land use, land use change and forestry.

The training was aimed to enhance the capacity of Rwanda to compile the GHG inventories that are reported to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and to measure the advance of Rwanda’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) related to Land Use.

It was conducted through an FAO project “National Land Monitoring and Information System for a transparent NDC reporting” that is implementing a series of mapathons across the continent called Africa DEAL. The initiative is a common effort to improve the Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) statistics that will allow all the African countries to report their deforestation, reforestation, and afforestation data with a common framework, as well as providing continental/regional level statistics.

Using Open Foris Collect Earth

According to the third National Communication Report on Climate Change, Rwanda is highly vulnerable to climate change and relies heavily on rain-fed agriculture.

During the training, participants collected data samples from the Western province for testing the methodology, and this will be expanded nationally to assist on Rwanda’s Biennial Update Reports and National Communications to the UNFCCC.

With the total area of 2,633,800 hectares, Rwanda uses satellite data used in GHG inventory management system.   

Alphonse Mutabazi, is the Climate Change Program Manager in the Single project Implementation Unit of REMA. He said that the data collected will be used in environment impact assessment for Greenhouse gas inventories on forestry, land use, land use change and agriculture.

“The images that are offered by the tools are of high resolution, and expensive. We have been mobilizing about USD$100,000 to acquire the satellite images. But through this project we’re getting this tool free of charge, the money will be saved to do other projects,” Alphonse said. 

Bright Aboh from Senegal, is a student and researcher at the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS). He’s currently researching on LULUCF at Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA).

“Until now at REMA we’re using data estimates on LULUCF and Greenhouse gas emission. Without factual data it’s difficult to evaluate the effect on Greenhouse emissions. This tool provides quality data on afforestation, LULUCF and agriculture for greenhouse gas emissions and environment calculation. Traditionally you have to physically count the trees. With the Open Foris tool you just zoom in using the satellite. You don’t have to be there physically,” Bright said.

Herman HAKUZIMANA, is the Director of the Department of Climate Change and International Obligations at Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA).

He emphasized that FAO’s tool will go a long way to support Rwanda to meet its obligation under the UNFCCC, increase its readiness for implementation of Paris Agreement, as well as informing decision makers.

While Rwanda is still classified as a sink – and not an emitter – country, 3rd National communication warns that If Rwanda follows the mitigation options proposed it will remain a sink until 2050, but if it doesn’t follow it will become an emitter in 2022.

Way forward

The professionals trained will form a pool of experts that will be used in the country’s data collection and to transfer knowledge to different institution and students.

Experts trained came from institutions such as, Rwanda Water and Forestry Authority (RWFA), Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA), Rwanda Agricultural Board (RAB), University of Rwanda (UR), Rwanda Meteorology Agency (RMA), National Institute of Statistics Rwanda (NISR), Rwanda Land Management and Use Authority (RLMUA), Ministry of Agriculture and Animal resources (MINAGRI), Centre for Geographical Information Systems and Remote Sensing (CGIS) and World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF).

Contributing to FAO strategic goals

The project will contribute to the FAO Strategic Programme 2 on Making agriculture, forestry and fisheries more productive and sustainable. 


Teopista Mutesi | Communications Specialist | Email: Teopista.Mutesi@fao.org OR FAO-RW@fao.org