Easter Africa (29)
Various parts of East Africa receive near normal rainfall during the rainy seasons. However, this water is not well harvested and stored to meet domestic, agricultural and industrial demands in the dry seasons. If well harvested, rainwater provides clean water that translates to low water bills for urban households and a clean and reliable source in rural settings. Rainwater harvesting uses cheap technology which requires minimal expertise and investment. This paper studies rainwater harvesting in Kenya, it points out the lack of a clear strategy to put in place sufficient harvesting programs in the country and challenges the county governments to invest more in rainwater harvesting programs. The paper also explores the technical aspects of a rainwater harvesting system, its benefits and applicability in a community. Reference is made to some of the successfully implemented rainwater harvesting projects in Kenya’s dry Northern regions of Marsabit, Moyale, Turkana, Isiolo and Machakos with funding from organizations such as World Vision, UNEP and the World Bank. However, the projects lack a sustainability model and are fully reliant on donor funding. To create sustainability, there is need to integrate community members in the project approach. With proper investment by all stakeholders, rainwater will provide a solution to clean water in Africa.
Although there have been identified various processes through which the earth loses its surface and atmospheric water in what is called the water cycle, rainfall is the only process through which this water is gained back into the earth’s atmosphere. East Africa is blessed to have plenty of the rainfall, especially in its highlands regions such as the Great Rift Valley highlands, Western Uganda, Eastern DRC, Rwanda, and Blue Nile highlands (Eklundh, L.1998; Ogallo, L. J. (1988). When water comes back to the earth as rain it is relatively clean and can be harvested for domestic use without using advanced technology to clean it. If well harvested and managed, rainwater can assist different governments in East Africa supply enough water for domestic consumption, agricultural, and industrial use. Rainwater harvesting does not require a lot of investment because it does not rely on surface streams, deep wells, and seas. It does not require much of treatment and needs little if any reticulation systems (Hatibu, N., Mutabazi, K., Senkondo, E. M., & Msangi, A. S. K. (2006).
Despite the economic benefits and cost in treatment of rainwater, governments in East Africa have not put enough mechanisms in place to harvest it. Instead, the occurrence of rains is easily associated with destruction of property and environmental disasters such as floods, landslides, and soil erosion. These problems may be avoided if the water is properly harnessed for future consumption.. It is not the case now because governments have not taken initiative to manage rainwater to improve public health and boost its economy through the establishment of water storage, dam constructions, and irrigation (Bruins, H. J., Evenari, M., & Nessler, U. (1986).
Community-Based Partners in Rainwater Harvesting in Kenya
With the promulgation of a new constitution (2010) that emphatically promotes devolution, Kenyan policy-makers should shift their policy on the management of rainwater. The central government through institutions such as the Ministry of Water Resources Management and Development, Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources and Wildlife and Ministry of Agriculture, National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), and the Southern and Eastern Africa Rainwater Network (SEARNET), should encourage the county governments to invest more in harvesting of rainwater. It is more effective to manage rainwater by involving communities at the grass roots who form the immediate consumers of this resource.
Though there have been various efforts and significant collaborations between the central government and other stakeholders such as International Rainwater Catchment System Association (IRCS) and the Regional Land Management Unit of UNEP based in Nairobi Kenya, Kenya has not yet carried out a deliberate move to decentralize the rainwater programs to the community through the county governments. This would encourage the public to actively participate in the management of local water resources. Involving local communities and institutions such as churches, mosques, temples and women Groups would improve the management of rainwater harvesting programs.
The government and its development partners should speed up projects of water dam constructions, rainwater harvesting and storage, and well drilling in order to enable rural community’s access to clean water for domestic, agrarian, and livestock use (Mwenge Kahinda, J. M., Taigbenu, A. E., & Boroto, J. R. (2007).
A Community-Integrated Rainwater Harvesting Approach
Kenya receives relatively good rainfall amount. This makes it easier for rural and urban populations to harvest rainwater. For urban households, rainwater harvesting would reduce monthly water bills paid to the Kenya Water and Sewage Company, and provide them with a more reliable source of clean water. For those living in rural areas an effective rainwater harvesting and management would provide them with clean and reliable source of water and also help them water their vegetable gardens (Rockstrom, J. (2000).
The government, private sector, and community members should work collaboratively and use modern technology to harvest and store rainwater. Modern technology can help to harvest more water in a short time and store it for over a long period. This would benefit local communities, especially women and children who usually bear the role of searching for water for domestic use. Rainwater, if well harvested and stored, improves the economic and social living standards of a community, promotes socio-coexistence within the community and improves trans-boundary relationship. This means that members of rural communities who usually fight over water for irrigation and livestock will have enough water within their own communities and reduce the needs to take their cattle far away in search of water. Consequently reducing unnecessary intercommunity conflict witnessed in the North-eastern region (Kaimba, G. K., Njehia, B. K., & Guliye, A. Y. 2011; Osamba, J. (2000).
Technical Aspect of Rainwater Harvesting and Its Benefits
Households and communities should invest in a storage facility for water harvesting. These storage might be either in the open or buried underground. In some cases some water pumps are needed in order to direct water into or out of different storages for various uses; agricultural practices of irrigation & animal farming or, water for sale as an income generator. The same rainwater harvested and stored can also be used to produce manure that can be used to fertilize vegetable gardens and even the big farms thus improving food security and small scale horticultural activities. All these activities improve household income generation, family nutrition, community sanitation and hygiene, and reduce poverty (Fox, P., Rockström, J., & Barron, J. (2005).
Rainwater harvesting if well designed and managed can gear Kenya to meet the 2015 UN millennium development goals to; eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, and promote environmental sustainability.
Rainwater harvesting is not a new concept among communities in Kenya. In Africa, communities especially those living in semi-arid regions understand the importance of rainwater harvesting. . There have been successful stories where communities in Northern Kenya regions of Moyale, Machakos, Turkana, Marsabit and Isiolo, with support from International donor funds / organizations such as the World Bank, UNEP and World Vision, have used Appropriate Technology to harvest rainwater. However, these projects should insist on creating sustainability within the communities’ rainwater harvesting systems.
A community-integrated approach to rainwater harvesting and management is the solution to providing clean water in Kenya and Africa. The projects requires minimal technology, expertise and investment. They are beneficial for water supply and environmental conservation. Successful implementation of such projects require prior environmental impact assessment and planning before execution. There is also need for investment in community sensitization and trainings to ensure project sustainability.
Written by William A.Twayigize
Good news has recently flooded the Kenyan media about the discovery of commercially viable oil and aquifer in Turkana County. The discovery is a relief and plight of a marginalized nomadic community. The Turkana people are pastoralist group living in semi-arid region of north-western Kenya. Once a historically ignored region, now oil and aquifer discovery has sparked a gold-rush like interest of both local and international business clairvoyants. This study combines both the resource curse and community-based natural resource management (CBNRM) frameworks to explore possible conflict drivers, community views of resource-based conﬂicts, and how oil and water discovery increases both conflict risks and socioeconomic opportunities. We also look at how CBNRM presents us with more opportunities as an intervention to promote community development, peaceful coexistence, and mitigates natural resources-based conflict both locally and regionally. Over the centuries, the region of Turkana has been characterized by an increasingly militarized inter-community and cross-border conﬂicts due to limited resources such as arable land, water resources, and basic development infrastructure. These challenges have led to chronic famine, competition over scarce water resources, and conflict for their survival. Without better mechanisms in place to manage oil and aquifer, they are likely to fuel the existing interethnic conflict into a full-fledged ‘oil curse’ as it has been the cases in other African countries. Collective measures such as implementing CBNRM program supported by all stakeholders such as Kenyan and Turkana County government, NGOs, Tullow Oil and others are necessary to prevent future 'resource-curse', and promote socioeconomic development, and peace in Turkana.
Written by Africa Oil
Africa Oil has completed the previously announced (November 9, 2015) farmout with Maersk Olie og Gas A/S related to Kenyan Blocks 10BB, 13T and 10BA.
Kenya & Ethiopia
November 9, 2015
Africa Oil has entered into a definitive farmout agreement with Maersk Oil & Gas A/S, a Danish oil and gas company owned by the Maersk Group ("Maersk") whereby Maersk will acquire 50% of Africa Oil's interests in Blocks 10BB, 13T and 10BA in Kenya and the Rift Basin and South Omo Blocks in Ethiopia in consideration for reimbursement of a portion of Africa Oil's past costs and a future carry on certain exploration and development costs.
Uganda & Kenya
10 August 2015
The Company announced that following a state visit to Uganda by His Excellency Hon. Uhuru Kenyatta, President of the Republic of Kenya, a joint communiqué from both Governments was issued on 10 August 2015 which stated that "the two Heads of State agreed on the use of the Northern Route i.e. Hoima-Lokichar-Lamu for the development of the crude oil pipeline." August 12, 2015
December 15, 2015
Significant Increase in Independent Resource Estimates in Kenya September 16, 2014
Block 10BB In Block 10BB, the partnership has completed the Ngamia Extended Well Test production phase with approximately 38,000 barrels of oil produced. Five completed zones of the Ngamia-8 production well were tested individually at a cumulative rate of 2,400 bbl/d and all except the lowest zone produced without artificial lift. Communication between the producer well and an observation well, at a distance of approximately 500 metres, was also demonstrated. December 15, 2015
March 16, 2016
Block 12A The Cheptuket-1 well in Block 12A, Northern Kenya, has encountered good oil shows, seen in cuttings and rotary sidewall cores, across a large interval of over 700 metres. Cheptuket-1 is the first well to test the Kerio Valley Basin and was drilled by the PR Marriott Rig-46 to a final depth of 3,083 metres.
The objective of the well was to establish a working petroleum system and test a structural closure in the south-western part of the basin. The strong oil shows encountered in Cheptuket-1 indicates the presence of an active petroleum system with significant oil generation and represents the most significant well result to date in Kenya outside the South Lokichar basin. Post-well analysis is in progress ahead of defining the future exploration program in the basin.
Block 13T The Etom-2 well in Block 13T, Northern Kenya, has encountered 102 metres of net oil pay in two columns. The objective of the well was to explore the north flank of the Etom structure in an untested fault block identified by recent 3D seismic. Oil samples, sidewall cores and wire line logging all indicate the presence of high API oil in the best quality reservoir encountered in the South Lokichar Basin to date. Additional prospectivity identified on the 3D seismic in the Etom Field area and in the northern portion of the basin, including the Erut and Elim prospects, will now be considered as part of the future exploration drilling program.
Discovering this thick interval of high quality oil reservoirs further underpins the development options and resource base. The result follows careful evaluation of 3D seismic data which was shot after the Etom-1 well and demonstrates how the partnership has improved its understanding of the South Lokichar Basin. This result also suggests significant potential in this underexplored part of the block as it is the most northerly well drilled in South Lokichar and is located close to the axis of the basin away from the basin-bounding fault. Accordingly, Tullow Oil plc and Africa Oil will review the potential of the greater Etom area and neighbouring prospects to decide on the forward program.
December 15, 2015
The PR Marriott Rig-46 drilled the Etom-2 well to a final depth of 1,655 metres. The Twiga-3 exploratory appraisal well in Block 13T encountered sands within the Lokone Shale sequence that are interpreted as good quality oil bearing reservoir over a gross interval of 120 metres. This result will be assessed in future exploration and appraisal activities, stepping out into the South Lokichar basin to further define this encouraging additional oil potential.
Following completion of appraisal activities, the Marriot 46 is now drilling the Emesek-1 basin opening well, which will test the undrilled North Lokichar basin. The well was spudded on 15 October and drilling is ongoing. Following Emesek-1, the Marriot 46 will move to drill the Etom-2 well in an undrilled fault block adjacent to the Etom oil discovery. November 11, 2015
In light of the current and forecast short term oil price environment, the Company has worked closely with Tullow to focus the 2015 work program and budget on advancing the discovered basin development in Blocks 10BB and 13T by undertaking activities aimed at increasing resource certainty and progressing development studies with the intent of submitting a FDP around the end of 2015.
February 23, 2016
On February 23, 2016 the Company reported that it has completed the previously announced (November 9, 2015) farmout with Maersk Olie og Gas A/S ("Maersk Oil") related to the South Omo and Rift Basin Blocks in Ethiopia. At completion of the Ethiopian farmout, Africa Oil received a payment of US$12.8 million from Maersk Oil. February 23, 2016
Africa Oil has entered into a definitive farmout agreement with Maersk Oil & Gas A/S, a Danish oil and gas company owned by the Maersk Group ("Maersk") whereby Maersk will acquire 50% of Africa Oil's interests in Blocks 10BB, 13T and 10BA in Kenya and the Rift Basin and South Omo Blocks in Ethiopia in consideration for reimbursement of a portion of Africa Oil's past costs and a future carry on certain exploration and development costs.
November 9, 2015
South Omo The Company and its partners have also indicated their intent to enter the next exploration period in the South Omo block. Due to the extensive drilling and seismic program, no additional work commitments will be required during this period. The partnership plans to evaluate the four wells drilled to date to determine if additional drilling is warranted and, if so, which portion of the block is considered most prospective. The Company has informed the Ethiopian Government and its partners that it intends to withdraw from Blocks 7 and 8 in the Somali region. Although the El Kuran-3 well did demonstrate some oil and gas potential, the Company does not feel it is warranted to continue efforts at this time due to concerns over reservoir quality and commerciality.
August 28, 2014
Rift Basin Area Block In the Rift Basin Area Block, a 2D seismic crew will complete the acquisition of approximately 600 kilometers of land and lake seismic in the third quarter of 2015. Source rock outcrops and oil slicks on the lakes have been identified in the block where there was previously no existing seismic or wells.
Written by Christine Mutisya from Insight on Conflict
June 24 2016: A new monitoring system analyses rumours and misinformation. Christine Mutisya explains how it can help stop conflict in Kenya and elsewhere.
One of the most effective ways to combat misinformation is to harness the power of networks Conflicts are on the rise around the world, which is a concern to both national and international governments. To combat this, countries need to join efforts. Conflict is multidimensional and one of the factors that causes it is misinformation. One of the most effective ways to counter misinformation is to use influencers in different spheres to spread correct information to their individual networks.
A good example of a misinformation management system is Una Hakika, an initiative by the Sentinel Project. Una Hakika monitors and counters the spread of misinformation that leads to violence in the Tana Delta region of Kenay. It works in the following way: users send rumour reports which are then verified by community ambassadors (volunteers in each village that have community networks and are able to verify information), other NGOs in the area, local government authorities and local security officials. Once feedback is collected from these sources, accurate information is relayed back to the users in a targeted manner in order to mitigate violence that could ensue. The potential of IT to bridge information gaps in less developed areas is considerable, particularly in contributing to stability, security, and peacebuilding in conflict areas.
Key lessons learned so far include that:
• Misinformation management systems cannot be imposed from above. Instead, they must be implemented by entering into communities using culturally relevant introduction processes, followed by cooperative efforts.
• Misinformation management efforts should not try to replace existing communication practices in a new environment. Rather, they should adapt to the variety of high tech and low tech methods already used in the area.
• Establishing and maintaining trust is one of the most important but also most difficult components of a misinformation management project. A project that is not transparent, honest, and fair will immediately lose its value to the community it serves.
• Women, youth and marginalised communities have the most to gain from a system which can circumvent many of the social, cultural, and structural barriers that prevent them from accessing reliable information.
The impact of good – and bad – information
Misinformation was rife during the Ebola crisisThe Una Hakika system can be used not only in conflict prevention but in different sectors such as health, education or foreign policy which also face misinformation challenges. This system can be used in the following examples:
The Ebola crises in West Africa led to the victimisation of people and deaths because of misinformation. A study by Oyeyemi et al showed that 58.9% of the tweets had medical misinformation and that misinformation had a much larger potential reach than correct information. Misinformation ranging from how to cure Ebola, its source, and handling Ebola patients was rife. Examples include “Ebola can be cured using saltwater baths or cola nuts”, “Poisoned wells caused the deaths of people and not Ebola,” or “Ebola is a government conspiracy to depopulate Sierra Leone’s Kailahun district leading to resistance of the arrival of health workers in the region.”
With a misinformation management service such effects can be reduced by people who have access to facts. This also took place in the US where the first case of Ebola caused misinformation to be propagated, spreading the idea that Ebola was rampant. This shows that misinformation has a powerful effect.
Burundi could also benefit from such a service. With the repression of mainstream and social media there has been a lack of verifiable information. This has caused uncertainty which in turn has led to fear, unrest and insecurity. Such a service coupled with other peacebuilding efforts can fill the information gap allowing citizens to live well-informed, secure and peaceful lives whilst enjoying civic participation.
The European migrant crisis, aside from being fuelled by foreign policy, has been worsened by misinformation, which has created a rift between refugees and local people. The cause of misinformation can be attributed to differences in culture, vested interests, and fear. Social media has contributed to the situation by allowing faster spread of misinformation and allowing a wider reach. Examples include anti-migrant incidents such as the one witnessed in Leipzig where some protesters branded banners that said “Islamists not welcome” and “Rapefugees not welcome” or “Islamic State (ISIL) are sending hundreds of thousands of their soldiers to Europe by infiltrating the refugees.” Such comments can fuel conflict. A misinformation management system can map and track misinformation, allow misinformation to be analysed for better policy making and inform people with facts.
A full report can be found here.
Written by IRIN
BUJUMBURA, 9 June 2006 (IRIN) - A new policy of free medical care for Burundian mothers and children was intended to improve their lives; instead it has cripple the nation's health system.
Public hospitals in Burundi have recorded double, sometimes triple, the number of patients since a presidential directive for free paediatric and maternal health services was implemented on 1 May. Overcrowded wards, a shortage of doctors and other medical staff, as well as patients' inability to afford prescribed medications are some of the challenges health officials are now facing.
The situation in rural health centres is particularly desperate. In one case, four heavily pregnant women with health complications were referred from a rural clinic to a larger and better-equipped city hospital. However, the facility turned them away because of overcrowding. After local media reported that the women had not been admitted, a senior Ministry of Commerce official ordered that they be taken to a private clinic. Unfortunately, it was too late for one patient: She died as she was being taken there.
The woman's death could have been avoided had procedures been in place to ensure the proper implementation of the directive, health officials said. The public health system was ill prepared to cope with the resultant increase in patients, and subsequently, patients have been let down. The poor services patients were accustomed to paying for may now be free, but the quality of care has declined even further because of the increased caseload and an acute shortage of doctors.
An unmanageable caseload
Aline Bigirimana has brought her child, who is shivering with a high fever, to the Prince Regent Charles Hospital in the capital, Bujumbura. "Mothers who brought their children for treatment today are many, and by midday, the paediatrician will tell us to come back later," she said. "But when we return in the afternoon, we will find the doctor has left. I am worried because today is Saturday. If I go home without my daughter being treated, I fear she may not be alive by Monday, when I'm supposed to come back."
Although implementing free maternal and child healthcare has been plagued with difficulties, many Burundians, including Bigirimana, have largely welcomed the initiative.
Women with their children wait to see a paediatrician at the Prince Régent Charles Clinic
"Previously, I paid 700 Burundi francs [US$7] for consultation, but now I don't have to pay a thing," she said, as she inched along the long queue of patients waiting to see the only paediatrician on duty at the hospital.
Many patients said the government should have included free prescriptions in its initiative. "Free healthcare, to me, should include free medicine," said Adidja Nsengiyumva, another mother seeking treatment for her child at Prince Regent Charles Hospital.
Before the directive, many pregnant women simply could not afford to give birth in hospital and delivered their babies at home, despite the health risk.
"I delivered my nine children at home for lack of hospital fees," said a woman at Kayanza Provincial Hospital in the central part of the country. Her tenth child would be born in hospital because "the service is now free of charge", she said.
The large number of women and children seeking free healthcare has overwhelmed most institutions. Hospital administrators nationwide have complained about congestion in paediatric and maternity wards.
"We saluted the measure, but it seems the government did not plan mechanisms to successfully implement it," said Tharcisse Nzeyimana, director and gynaecologist at the Prince Louis Rwagasore Clinic in Bujumbura.
"Before the decision to provide free healthcare, our hospital received a daily average of seven women wanting to deliver," Nzeyimana said. "The hospital now receives between 15 and 20 women per day."
Crowding at the clinic, which caters to rural and urban residents, peaks at the weekend. A similar situation prevails in other health institutions, such as the provincial hospitals of Kayanza, Bururi and Gitega.
A shortage of bed space has forced the two overworked nurses at Gitega Hospital to put patients along corridors. Mothers must be discharged on the day they give birth to make room for others. The nurses complained of working long hours, an average of 10 hours daily, seven days a week.
At Bururi Hospital in the south, the maternity ward receives between 40 and 66 patients per day, according to the provincial health director, Onésime Ndayishimiye. Prior to the initiative, the daily average was 14.
Lack of equipment and expertise
Free healthcare for women and children has made Burundi's lack of qualified medical staff and specialists even more keenly felt.
"Kayanza Hospital has only one doctor for the many C-section cases," Firmin Ruberintwari, the hospital's administrator, said.
Like many of his colleagues at other facilities, Ruberintwari worried that the hospital would run out of medicines and other equipment. "Of three gynaecologic [delivery] tables needed, only one is in a good state," he said.
At the Ruyigi Hospital in the southeast, there is a shortage of beds, mattresses, operating tables and even basics like surgical gloves. The hospital, which already struggles to pay its staff, now has the additional burden of funding the free services.
Government unable to pay medical bills. Before the 1 May directive, the government paid the medical bill for sections of its employees who sought treatment in public health institutions, including the police and the army. It also paid for the medical care of destitute people. For example, the government owes Kayanza Hospital the local equivalent of at least $60,000.
This, in turn, has led to hospitals in Cankuzo, Bubanza, Cibitoke, Ruyigi and Rutana provinces being unable to pay their suppliers, a situation that can only impact negatively on patients.
"Suppliers are reluctant or just refuse to provide drugs and equipment, since the hospital is incapable of paying its bills," Ruberintwari said.
Kayanza Hospital already owes its suppliers some 50 million Burundi francs ($40,000) and is fast running out of drugs. The situation is identical at the Gitega Hospital.
Hospital administrators have demanded the government take urgent corrective measures.Nzeyimana, the administrator of Prince Louis Rwagasore Clinic, said the government should increase medical staff, compel all health centres to remain open 24 hours and reinforce weekend teams to cope with the growing influx of patients. In addition to recruiting more staff, the government needed to increase salaries in order to stem an exodus of doctors from government service, he said.
Ministry of Public Health officials say they are aware of the implementation problems and are looking for ways to resolve them.
"First instalments of the amounts to be paid [to hospitals and clinics] are available at the Finance Ministry," said Cyprien Baramboneranye, managing director for resources at the Ministry of Public Health.
However, he said the ministry was waiting for facilities to invoice the government before clearing its bills. This instalment, he added, would enable hospitals and health centres to function normally.
The principal private secretary in the Ministry of Public Health, Julien Kamyo, said the government was providing $2 million to settle the issue of medicine shortages. In addition, foreign donors would give at least $8 million to the health sector this year. However, he said, it would take more than a year to solve all the problems associated with the directive.
Written by William A.Twayigize
African woman has been managing our natural resources such as land, water, crops, forests, and minerals for millions of years. However, her role has remained the same over ages. The one to manage these natural resources without having access to controlling this land. In fact, in some communities a woman is given the rights to manage land only if her husband is still alive. When her husband passes on, the woman’s in-laws are customary allowed to uproot the widow from all that she had access to while her husband was still alive such as children, land, livestock, and other socioeconomic benefits.
Traditionally, in Africa women are the managers of natural resources such as land, water, livestock, forests, and humans as well. Why should I include humans as natural resources? In my own views, in some African communities they see children as assets and wealth. They are valued as investment and capital. In fact, some decades ago humans were the sources of wealth and access to natural resources. It did not matter whether one had access to natural resources as long as he/she had numerous children. They could be valued as natural resources because they are God given and they can be used for economic gain. According to the Oxford Dictionary “materials or substances such as minerals, forests, water, and fertile land that occur in nature and can be used for economic gain.” I would also suggest that human resources should be included among elements of natural resources because they occur in nature though humans are not material or substances such as minerals, water, wood, forests, and land. However, they are involved in wealth creation.
Moving away from the argument of whether humans can be taken as natural resources or not we can now move back to our arguments of women as natural resources managers and conflict prevention. In African community women take care of our land, water, forests, minerals, and other resources that sustain us. We all grow up seeing our mothers waking up very early in the morning to attend to our farms, rivers, forests, and livestock in order for the families to survive and prosper. They account everything that happens in our society. For over centuries women have managed African natural resources effectively and continue to do so without any complaints. They have either directly or indirectly contributed to the stability which our various nations enjoy but are the ones who bear most blunts of conflict minerals that have ravaged our respective counties. Still women have not been fully integrated into the natural resources management jurisdiction, which involves stewardship, decision-making process, and the responsibility of the end results cycle.
What does this means?
It means that African society has left women with the burden to take care of our natural resources but without entrusting them with ability to control the natural resources and making decisions that affect how these natural resources are used, how they are used, when they are used an for what purpose they are used for. This is how the process of natural resources management in African society has been for centuries:
Women as stewards of natural resources: in this capacity a) women work on the farms, attend to the farms and their produce from the farm. They take all the produces to their households to wait for their men to make decisions of how they are used. In some households men prefer to involve their women in decision-making process of how the resources are going to be used, but not all households do that. In fact, some heads of household prefer to decide how the resources are going to be spent without involving their women at all. They can either choose to share the produce all take it all leaving with their families with something little to survive on. This leads us to the next point which the decision-making process.
Women and decision-making process of natural resources management in African society: Though they have been significant changes in the last two decades due to different programs that have been supporting women so that they are empowered to make decisions of how to use their resources, still there are many households where women have no access to decision-making process of how natural resources are spent either in their household or within their communities. The decision-making process is the most important one because it decides how natural resources income is going to be spent, when and how it would be spent. Looking at the level of poverty among rural women in Africa compared to their male counterpart, you could easily understand that women’s plights are violated at this level. This is because, as we said earlier, women are the ones who spend most of their time and energy taking care of family land, but they are not involved at the decision-making level of how these resources that women have been working hard to produce are used. This introduces us to the level three which deals with responsibilities and end results.
Women, responsibilities and end results: at this level we only see those women who are lucky to have caring husbands who value them and involve them in decision-making process. They are involved in sharing responsibilities of how money is going to be shared and what for. I cannot also ignore that men who have skipped level of in involving women in the decision-making process of how the household’s natural resources are going to be spent might involve their women in Level three by letting their women participate in few responsibilities and end-results which includes giving their women to buy things the family needs. A man might want his wife to come up a list of things needed by the family and dictates the priorities of those things for the sake of the family’s survival. However, when a woman is involved later in the process of natural resources management without active participation in all three levels might not be sustainable, because one side might feel being used, which might lead to domestic conflict and low level of motivation in natural resources management demonstrated by low input on a woman’s side. This would increase household poverty.
There are no doubts that, though in Africa, women have been traditional managers of our land there have been so little or nothing to empower women to take control of the management of our natural resources not only taking care of these resources, but also to actively participate in controlling and making decisions that set guidelines on how these resources should be spent. African government should come up with policies that ensure that women have better access to, and control of, natural resources such as land, water, forests and minerals to improve community living conditions, improve public health, and stimulate economic growth. This would facilitate to maintain social stability creating a good environment for long-term sustained peace within the country. Apart from that, where countries have been in civil conflict, women in natural resources management would create an equitable environment for peace recovery process.
Africa has born all blunts of conflicts that the world has known in the last 5 decades. When all this happens African women and children in conflict-torn regions are always the primary victims of war. They lose access to drinking water, food, and energy to cook for or warm their families. When the war is on these women and children are the ones to become refugees, widows, internally displaced people, are mass-raped and even killed. Despite all the above, women remain largely excluded from owning land, benefiting from wealth creation, or participating in decision-making process. In this regard women cannot have access to capital so that they can be involved in financial activities which would allow them to influence both political and policy decisions that are important in governing a country. This also prevents women from participating in deciding how resources are negotiated and are allocated. We have seen that poor and unfair location of natural resources are important to influence the stability of any country. Many conflicts in Africa have been caused by lack of transparency in natural resources management, which lead to some communities to have more access on resources creation than others, which caused community resentment and revolt. When women are involved in managing and deciding how resources are used and where, this would enhance community coexistence and peacebuilding process. A country like Kenya has been on the right track to enhancing community stability by including women in the constitution to grant them rights to land inheritance of which many countries in Africa have not. This will reduce land related conflict and promote self-sufficiency within communities.
African regional organizations such as Southern African Development Community (SADC), Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), East African Community (EAC), Economic Community of the Great Lakes Countries (CEPGL), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have to implemented policies that empower rural women in order to engage in activities that promote effective natural resources management such as microfinance literacy, modern agriculture, instead of food crops that do not involve economic activities.
For the countries which have been in war, women suffer the brunt of conflicts in many ways. They become widows when their husbands are killed and become refugees. However, when it comes to seeking peace women are not actively involved as agents of peacebuilding and recovery. Effective management of our natural resource remains a cornerstone of community and national development. This is one of the reasons women should be actively involved in both processes natural resources management and peacebuilding. African countries have been blessed with huge and various minerals. Effective management of these natural resources in mineral forms are very important for the sustainable employment opportunities and sustainable peace.
Creating women representatives who are in charge of natural resources management activities within the government is equally important as women empowerment. Women should not be confined in traditional role of natural resources management such as tending to the land, farms, forests among others but be allowed to actively participate in decision-making that allow women to make decisions on how and when these resources are used. This will enhance community-based natural resources management, promote economic growth, and facilitate accountability in our communities. More importantly, it will bring sustainable peace for our future.
Written by William A.Twayigize
From the time immemorial, in most parts of Africa, women have enormous responsibilities of managing land, forests, water catchments, and in some cases minerals. However, the society has lacked a deliberate attempt to incorporate women not only in natural resources management but also in control and decision-making (Quisumbing, A. R. (2003). This would not only improve the stagnant economies in our communities but also ensure a stable and peaceful future of our continent. In countries where there are conflicts such as South Sudan, DR Congo, Burundi, Somalia, Central African Republic, and Cote d’Ivoire, women have an upper hand in using natural resources management and control such as land, water, forests and minerals to promote peace and social coexistence (Wangahemuka, J. K. (2005). We have to understand that mothers, sisters, aunts, and grandmothers are the ones who spend most of their time with children. In some countries’ culture boys tend to respect their mothers, sisters, and aunts more than they do to their male counterparts such as fathers, brothers, cousins, and uncles. Actually, in some communities in Central African region such as DR Congo, fighters go home to ask for their mothers’ or aunts’ blessings for a peaceful return before they go to the combat (Coulter, C., Persson, M., & Utas, M. (2008). This is another powerful advantage that African women have to promote peace and effective management of natural resources in their society (Coulter, C., Persson, M., & Utas, M. 2008; Falkenburg, L. 2013).
In Africa 75 to 85% of women live in rural areas where they are responsible to manage land, water, food they harvest from their farms, and energy resources they harness from their forests and bushes in their communities (Davison, J. (1988). Many women have taken a forefront role in promoting responsible natural resources management, especially preserving water catchments. A good example is late Peace Laureate Hon. Wangari Maathai who resisted the Kenyan government in destroying water towers in the name of a short term development (Maathai, W. 2003; Maathai, W. 2008). Women also are involved in artisanal mining in countries such as DR Congo where women compete with men to mine gold and coltan, and Kenya where women are involved in (Wells, J. 2000; Aggarwal, R., Netanyahu, S., & Romano, C. 2001. Hinton, J., Veiga, M. M., & Beinhoff, C. 2003; Banza, C. L. N., Nawrot, T. S., Haufroid, V., Decrée, S., De Putter, T., Smolders, E., Mutombo, A. M. (2009).
Although over centuries, African women have been the sole responsible managers of the continent natural resources, they still lag behind both economically and politically. Their men remain still in control of how and when natural resources are used and what they are used for. This alienates women from benefiting from the continent natural resources profits (Snyder, M. C. (2000; Roy, M.-A., & Wheeler, D. (2006). More often than never, men use these natural resources to fund the wars and bargain their lion’s shares. Though women are mostly left in the dark or excluded from any decision-making opportunities, they are the ones who are mostly negatively affected by the decisions made by men, which lead to overt conflict, corruption, and dictatorial regimes (Pinstrup-Andersen, P., & Pandya-Lorch, R. (1994; Omari, C. K., Engel, J. R., & Engel, J. G. 1990; Le Billon, P. (2001; Lind, J., & Cappon, J. (2001). During the wars women and children become refugees, widows, and sexually abused. These are the reasons women should be actively involved not only in natural resources management, because they have been doing so over ages, but also be involved in decision-making process of how natural resources are managed, used, and what are used for (Lustig, S. L., Kia-Keating, M., Knight, W. G., Geltman, P., Ellis, H., Kinzie, J. D., . . . Saxe, G. N. 2004; Richardson, P., Howarth, R., & Finnegan, G. (2004). This would prevent some of the reckless decisions that lead to conflicts. Once women take active role in controlling Africa’s natural resources, they can influence decisions made to promote peace and development since women do not just promote peace for themselves but also for their children (Giller, K. E., Witter, E., Corbeels, M., & Tittonell, P. (2009).
International community, development partners, academic institutions, and African governments must change and support policies that target women and give them more proactive roles in decision-making process (Nkomo, S. M., & Ngambi, H. (2009). In this way, Africa will shift from focusing on post-conflict recovery programs that survive on humanitarian organizations than development itself. Instead it’d refocus its attention to programs that promote lasting and sustainable development with a directed economic growth. Women can also become instrumental in preventing tribal conflicts, which have been the engines of ethnic conflicts in most of African nations such as in Rwanda, Burundi, DR Congo, Uganda, and Southern Sudan, instead promote policies that enhance social coexistence and diversity tolerance (othchild, D. S. 1997; Bhavnani, R., & Backer, D. 2000; Smith, Z. K. 2000; Straus, S. 2005; McGarry, J., & O'leary, B. 2013). This will facilitates Africa and African communities to work together to invest in projects that foster sustainability and good management of natural resources.
Like in some communities, Africans view women as the pillars of the society and they bring together old foes, unite communities, and restore broken relationship (Qian, Z., & Lichter, D. T. (2007). Among Banyarwanda people, they call women or girls “NYAMPINGA” because they bring people together regardless of socioeconomic status and ethnic background women can be married off to any ethnic background. This is an important trait and unique that can be used to manage not only material resources by also human resources (Hilker, L. M. (2012). It should be used to manage conflict and promote coexistence among African communities. It is a high time that Africa awakes and realize that women are invaluable resources that should be given a chance in leadership to fix what their male counterpart might have failed to od in the last 50 years. Africa has to involve all stakeholders to support programs that provide women with responsibilities in managing natural resource-based programs as a way of empowering them and nurturing them to take up leadership role in natural resources management. Such programs would enable more women to gain knowledge and skills to actively participate in small businesses such as agricultural productions where women buy and sell produces and livestock from their own community farms. This should not been viewed as feminism domination but supporting each other to propel African economy (Collins, P. H. (1990).This would promote cash transfer from livestock. This type of business increases inter-community trading, communication, and interdependence among people, which may increase mutual respect and acceptance between communities and reduce hostilities (Kabeer, N. (2005).
However, readers must remember that, traditionally, in Africa like in most parts of the world, women have greater responsibilities to be homemakers. This does not imply that women are second class but people who play the central role in both family and the society (Katjavivi, P., & Kearney, M. 2000; Bauer, G., & Britton, H. E. 2006). They are the ones who keep the family together. Whatever they earn goes right back to support their families. Though in some quarters of the continent such as in Kenya and in Uganda where media have been reporting incidences where men forget their families and go to spend all their incomes drinking and reveling (Ambler, C. H. (1991; Willis, J. 2003; Papas, R. K., Sidle, J. E., Wamalwa, E. S., Okumu, T. O., Bryant, K. L., Goulet, J. L., . . . Justice, A. C. (2010). Different Kenyan media have reported that some rural women decided to go and protest at local government offices asking chiefs to close drinking joints in the communities so that men can go back to their home to take care of their families. “Our men are no longer our bread winners. They have deserted their responsibilities to pay tuitions for our children and find food for their families. Instead they spend all they earn drinking traditional brew”, one woman said (Willis, J. (2003). Even this is one of the incidences which cannot represent a cultural paradigm shift in our society, it is a good example of the gender differences and how they assign priorities differently. What women make benefits the entire family but in some cases what a man makes benefits an individual (Moultrie, A., & De La Rey, C. (2003).
One must also admit that shifting economic drivers in Africa would require change of a mindset. It would compel governments and policy-makers to deliberately involve more women in decision-making process to promote effective management of Africa’s natural resources (Khasiani, S. A. (1992). This will not only benefit the current generation but all ensure the survival of future posterity. In a traditionally-rooted patriarchal society like the continent of Africa, it would require more work than a simple political will. It would need a psychosocial preparation of both men and women so that they see their responsibilities in changing how women are viewed and their role in both natural resources management and peacebuilding (Karam, A. 2000; De La Rey, C., & McKay, S. 2006). They have to be allowed to understand women can contribute as well as their male counterpart if only they were given a chance to use their potential. To be able to harness the potential in our African mothers and sisters, we must accept a radical change steered by a common vision shared by all our citizens. This change must not be tainted by some political manoeuver unlike in some Africa countries where leaders use gender empowerment to win international political and economic support, but to bring about a socioeconomic change designed to eliminate socio-political discrimination. To incorporate women in Africa’s holistic development (Tripp, A. M. 2003; Wanyeki, L. M. 2003; Burnet, J. E. 2008).
African government leaders must be willing and accepting to change from what they perceive as national priorities to what is a real priority for their nations. That is to involve all members of the society in national development by enabling all people to feel being treated fairly and equally in managing the natural resources of the country, this includes women. Africans must actively be willing to facilitate the establishment of an openness and transparency as a foundation of inclusiveness. This calls for the recognition that we have got a problem to fix. In addition, readers should also understand that Africa has made impressive strides in promoting women into leadership of our natural resources. Today, Africa has more women in presidential leadership than any other continent in the world such as Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Zambian President Joyce Hilda Banda, the current Central African Republic Interim President Catherine Samba-Panza, and the African Union leader Ms. Dlamini-Zuma (Gouws, A. 2008; Adams, M. 2008.; Nkomo, S. M., & Ngambi, H. 2009). African government and development partners should continue investing in women’s leadership by empowering them with necessary skills to productively manage the continent natural resources, which include its people (Sweetman, C. (2000).
WILLIAM A.TWAYIGIZE is a Social Scientist specialized in International Affairs with special expertise in African Affairs. He has authored on several topics including Public Health in Tanzania and Haiti, Gender Based Violence in DR Congo, Women and natural resources management in Africa, Strategic conflict resolution in Ivory Coast, and Oil discovery and Social Justice in East Africa. He previously worked with Harvard Medical School, Boston University, and the Kenyan Government.
Written by William A.Twayigize
This paper will discuss community-based natural resources management in Rwanda with a focus on natural resources, especially a 65 billion cubic meters of the Methane gas found in Lake Kivu, which is found between Rwanda and Eastern DR Congo, in North Western Rwanda. The paper will also look at different types of natural resource minerals, which have been in exploitation in Rwanda. Those minerals are ores like cassiterite (SnO2), niobotantalite (Nb, Ta) 2O5, wolframite (Fe, Mn), WO4, beryl, spodumene, amblygonite, monazite, and gold (Au) (www.rnra.rw). The paper will highlight some of the available natural resources in Rwanda but the government has not yet exploited them or they are underexploited and don’t bring a lot to the country’s economy. We will try and make some recommendations of what the country can do to benefit from these natural resources that are underexploited in order to benefit from them.
Another product that contributes immensely to the country’s economy is coffee. The Rwandan coffee contributes a lot to the Rwandan international exportation. This paper will look at how the grassroots community, especially rural women have been involved in natural resources management in Rwanda since independence. Like in other countries, Rwandan natural resources include: water and water catchment areas, land, forests, minerals and natural gas, and wildlife.
Rwanda is blessed to have volcanic soil, which is rich and fertile. Rwanda grows one of the best mountainous coffee which is liked at the international market. This paper will pay more attention to Methane gas deposited at the floor of Lake Kivu in Gisenyi. We will look at how it has been exploited since independence, how it has benefited Rwandans, and how much the Kigali government is investing in this rare resources to promote it commercially in order to contribute to the building of the Rwandan economy.
The paper will discuss the natural gas called “Gaz Methane” or Methane Gas. It will look at how the community can be actively involved in managing Methane Gas to benefit enhance transparency, management effectiveness, and promote both national and local economic growth. The paper will expand its discussions to demonstrate if the Rwandan Methane Gas was fully exploited would not only benefit Rwandans but also the entire East African Community. Remember that countries involved in the East African Community such as Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, and Southern Sudan all import natural gas (Compressed Natural Gas) from outside of Africa. This means that Rwanda has a readily available market in East Africa region. Therefore, Rwandan natural gas of Methane gas would benefit from the East African market if it were effectively exploited and managed.
The paper will include recommendations on how natural resources in Rwanda can be managed effectively by involving community members of where those resources are exploited to ensure transparency, accountability, sustainability, and community-based economic empowerment. This would include all members of the community, especially focusing on women and youth in order to enhance gender empowerment in Rwanda. It will also include a Community-based Natural Resources Effective Management Theoretical Framework that demonstrates the interaction among all stakeholders to enhance the country’s socioeconomic policies that would improve how natural resources are managed in Rwanda. This will incorporate the government, the natural resources management policies, and the community members and demonstrate how the three institutions can come together to efficiently manage our natural resources to benefit all Rwandans.
NATURAL RESOURCES MANAGEMENT IN RWANDA
According to Princeton University’s website, Rwanda’s economy was relatively stable in 1960s and 1970s. However, this stability was not attributed to the efficiency of natural resources management, but prudent financial policies that the Gregory Kayibanda’s government put in place immediately after independence. After establishing economic policies that boosted economic growth, the Kayibanda’s government also got international support through foreign aid coupled with good terms of trade. This resulted in sustained economic growth that saw the Rwandan Franc become stronger against American Dollar and other foreign currencies. The GDP of the country was relatively stable and inflation rates was kept relatively low to make every commodity affordable by the common Rwandan. This economic growth was sustained by good world coffee prices considering that Rwandan economy relies heavily on coffee export. However this was not sustainable because of fluctuation and sharp fall in international coffee prices and Rwandan economic growth started being erratic (Van Der Meeren, R.1996; Nkurunziza, J. D., & Ngaruko, F. 2002; www.princeton.edu). Though Rwanda has various natural resources which were not yet exploited then, the main source of export of Rwanda was the coffee. This made it very hard for the government to diversify its income of the external currency.
ECONOMIC STRUCTURE IN 1980s
After Rwandan government failed to invest in diversifying it’s the harvest of its natural resources, Rwandan economy started slowing down significantly. The annual GDP growth rate of jumped from 6.5% in 1973 and 1980, growth to an average of 2.9% a year from 1980 to 1985 and was further weakened in 1986 all the way to 1990, partly because of the western free market ideology which aggressively championed by the former Britain Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to liberalize and privatize public institutions of production (McLean, I. (2001). In Rwanda, the economic reform in the Western was coupled with political problems which faced the Habyarimana’s government. This economic crisis peaked in early 1990s not only because of the IMF economic structural adjustment program carried out in Rwanda, but also the military invasion from Uganda and political uncertainty that characterized the entire country then. Many coffee plantations were deserted by workers due to war and remained unattended for years. Many farmers became internal displaced peoples (IDPs) (Mosley, P., & Weeks, J. 1993; Fosu, A. K. 1999; Chossudovsky, M. 1996; Storey, A. 2001; Stone, R. W. (2004). This crippled Rwanda’s economy faster since coffee was the only capital resources that Rwanda had relied on for years for its foreign currency. In addition, the IMF economic structural adjustment program did not achieve the intended results of reviving economic growth in Rwanda. This is because it focused on implementing large monetary devaluations and the removal of official set prices. The consequences were huge and catastrophic on salaried employees and their purchasing power of the Rwandan middle class. The economic problems of 1980s and 1990s and poor and short sighted IMF economic structural adjustment which did not take into account of diversifying in exploitation of the country’s natural resources. This would have created new market and expanded on the existing ones to bring in new revenues and sustain the economic growth. However, the end results of poor economic performance in Rwanda ended up pitching Rwandan communities against each other as they blamed each side to be the cause of poverty and economic stagnation. The end results were the civil of 1990s that claimed millions of lives of the Rwandan people (Sachs, J. D., Warner, A., Åslund, A., & Fischer, S. 1995; Block, S. A. 2002; Chossudovsky, M. 2003). When the Rwandan genocide happened the Rwandan economy stood still and again it started and the real GDP registered 9% increase in 1995, the first postwar year. This was a sign of the renaissance of economic activity in Rwanda, partly due to international economic support to the new formed government of the national unity.
RECENT NATURAL RESOURCES MANAGEMENT DIVERSIFICATION
There have been a lot development activities in Rwanda, especially in the natural resources exploitation and management. After the genocide, the Kigali government supported with development partners embarked on various projects to diversify and improve economy and decrease its external foreign aid and its dependence on subsistence farming, of which over 85% of agriculture in Rwanda is done in an old traditional farming way. Unlike many African countries, Rwanda’s overpopulation remains its most economic challenge and security threat due to confrontational competition for scarce farmland and other natural resources. Rwanda has limited industries to process its subsistence produces. However, Rwandan has less trade barriers in the region, which would be good for commercializing its natural resources deposited underneath its soil. The Kigali government continued working on rehabilitating Tea and Coffee plantations and factories. It also continues to diversify its sources of foreign currency although Rwanda's natural resources are limited with only 5% of foreign exchange earnings were produced by a very small mineral industry.
For over a century, Rwanda has been exporting minerals such as cassiterite, columbite-tantalite, and wolframite, which are the basis of Rwanda’s international export. The other minerals are some little gold and sapphires. However, in its bid to expand and diversify its economic income, Rwanda has turned to its rich natural gas called Methane Gas found in plenty in Lake Kivu. Though the production of this natural gas started over 30 years ago, it was a monopoly of the Rwandan brewery owned by a Dutch brewing company, the Heineken Group, which owns over 75% of the shares of the BRALIRWA. If were evaluated, the commercial exploitation of the Methane gas would contribute to the provision of fuel sources to many Rwandans and their industries reducing the depletion of the forests in search of fuel for cooking and heating their homes.
METHANE GAS EXPLOITATION IN RWANDA
According to Tietze, et al. Rwanda started using Methane gas commercially in 1963. Although it started as a research project which was based at the Cape Rubona station. Later it started producing around 8,000 cubic meters of Methane gas on daily basis which was sold to the Rwandan brewery of BRALIRWA based in Gisenyi town (Tietze, K., Geyh, M., Müller, H., Schröder, L., Stahl, W., & Wehner, H. (1980). According to the Rwandan ministry of Natural Resources and Rwanda Investment Group websites, the Methane gas in Rwanda is estimated at about 59 billion cubic meters. Out of this 59 billion of this natural gas 29 billion cubic meters are commercially exploitable if it is exploited at a larger scale. The methane gas is one the best gifts that God gave to Africa. It is believed that there are only four lakes in the world that contain dissolved gases in its waters. Those lakes are: Lake Kivu and Lake Nyos, Wum, and Monoun in Cameroon (Giggenbach, W., Sano, Y., & Schmincke, H. 1991, Schmid, M., Halbwachs, M., Wehrli, B., & Wüest, A. (2005). Lake Kivu is unique because it has a capacity of producing Methane gas which is the equivalent of 50 million tonnes of petrol. If it were carefully harnessed carefully, it would provide Rwanda and its neighbors an unlimited energy that would light each and every Rwandan household (Safari, B. (2010). This would serve as an economic engine that the Rwandan government is looking for. Once Methane is commercially exploited from the Lake Kivu Rwanda would be ahead of its neighboring countries in industrial sector, improved household income, agricultural sector, automating industry:
The Rwandan breweries of BRALIRWA has been benefiting from the use of Methane gas since 1960s. With this opportunity, the factory has managed to control its prices and keeping the quality of its products at affordable cost. Is measures were taken to upscale the exploitation of the Methane gas in Lake Kivu to the level of larger commercial use, Rwandans and its neighboring communities Uganda, DR Congo, Burundi, Tanzania, Uganda, and Kenya would benefit from this immense natural resources. Another major factory that would benefit from the use of the Methane gas in Lake Kivu is the Rwanda Cement factory (CIMERWA). As the cement factory undertakes its plans to expand, it will also use 80% of energy for its machinery that will come from peat. It would be effective if the government looked at the ways to harness the Methane gas in Lake Kivu to make cement considering that there is a high demand of cement not only in Rwanda but its neighboring countries. This would save the country billions of money and create more employment opportunities for the youth of Rwanda. We should also not ignore how much wood fuel used every day by both the Tea and Coffee industries to dry their products. If Methane gas were used to in the drying process of both Tea and Coffee in Rwanda would of course save the country billions in Francs that the country spend on reforestation and erosion presentation spend on fighting environmental depletion in Rwanda.
Community residential improvement the Rwandan natural resources of Methane gas can be used as fuel in form of compressed natural gas (CNG). This would be used for cooking and warming the houses, especially in the areas of Gisenyi, and Ruhengeri where weather becomes very cold during the course of the year. This would save millions of trees cut every day for domestic use in a country threatened by environmental degradation due to population explosion and competition over scarce resources. Once the methane gas is turned into CNG for commercial purpose then Rwanda can target its regional market of East Africa where millions of gallons of natural gas are sold every year to keep our household livable. This would improve not only the Rwandan GDP but also improve Rwandan household income. Considering the fact that scientists have confirmed that the Methane gas in Lake Kivu is in billions of cubic meters, and the country can become like Russia and export its natural resources to countries that experience winter such as Europe, South Africa, and Arab world.
Rwanda is an agricultural based economic country. This means that farming sustains over 85% of the country’s economy whether it is internal consumption or exportation. These billions of the country’s Methane gas if well managed can bring the country out of poverty forever. It can be used to manufacture animal feeds, which have a hot market in East and Central African region. According to the Nairobi Star newspaper, Kenya imports almost 500,000 metric tons of fertilizer annually, which amounts to tens of billions of the Kenyan Shillings. Through innovative and effective natural resources management in Rwanda, the Kigali government can cash in this huge market and make fertilizer to sell to its regional neighbors, which would be cost effective and turn around the struggling Rwandan economy. Methane gas good use is better than underneath gold. Therefore, Methane gas is the Rwanda’s gold (http://www.the-star.co.ke).
Like its neighbors in East Africa, Rwanda has been struggling with electricity supply issue. Power outage has been synonymous to ELECTROGAZ (a Rwanda Energy Company) in Rwanda. Every week millions of Rwandans count losses due to untimely power outage. Methane gas could a God-sent savior to millions of Rwandans who depend on shaky electricity supply in Rwanda. Rwanda is reasonably small country that enables the government to implement its social and economic policies much easy. This also adds another advantage of distribution energy generated from the Methane gas down to the rural communities to improve their living standard.
A COMMUNITY-BASED APPROACH TO MANAGE THE RWANDAN METHANE GAS
With over 10 million population and over 65 billion cubic meters of natural gas of Methane in Lake Kivu, Rwanda stands the greatest opportunity to revamp its economic ambition of establishing a new Hong-Kong of Africa. This ambition can be fulfilled by the idea which started over 50 years ago in 1960s at the Cape Rubona station at the shore of the Lake Kivu. From since then the station has provide constant supply of electricity to the Rwandan largest brewery of BRALIRWA. This supply of power has facilitated both the government and the BLARIRWA to provide cheaper beer to the Rwandan community and the region. It can also provide potential source of electricity to transform Rwandan economy in the near future. This would call for unprecedented measures from both the Kigali government and international community such as the World Bank (WB), African Development Bank (AfDB), and International Monetary Fund (IMF) to invest heavily in the project and the community as well that would help in establishing a multipurpose Methane Gas Power Plant in Gisenyi. This project would provide cheap electricity for manufacturing, supply electricity for domestic use to the entire Rwanda and the region, establish a plant that manufactures fertilizer, and also build a plant that will package propane gas for both domestic and industrial use that can also be exported into regional and international markets in East-Central and Southern Africa. To achieve this, Rwandan government and international community have to reformulate its socioeconomic and political policies to ensure both privatization and public sector investment in management of natural resources put community members into perspective of the effective management of the natural resources for sustainable development.
Since 1994, the Kigali government has been putting in place investors friendly policies that allow the public and foreign investors to put their resources in economic projects such as energy sector which has been in the sole management of the government led ELECTROGAZ. With a good and new structure of energy sector and management of the natural resources in Rwanda, coupled with well-thought of social policies would facilitate the effectiveness of managing natural resources in Rwanda and contribute to the holistic socioeconomic growth in Rwanda and the region.
Like in most of African countries, Rwanda needs stronger socioeconomic policies that would encourage the grassroots community members to actively participate in the management of their natural resources so that they see themselves both in the “Input” which is the investment and the “Output” which is the Return On the Investment (ROI) of the project in their own communities. As I continue to emphasize, this encourages local people to find themselves as the owners of the project instead of the “outsiders” of the project. This does not only ensure there is socioeconomic benefits in the community but also sustainability of the project within the community. There have been many long term investments in natural resources in Rwanda. There have been success stories too, especially when it comes to making profits. However, this does not always reflects the happiness of the community in which these projects are established and making profits. To protect the common Rwandan, there is always a need for the government to put in place mechanisms that promote socioeconomic coexistence of both the investors and the community members so that they both enjoy the benefits of the natural resources found within their communities. In the case of the Rwandan Methane Gas in Gisenyi at Cape Rubona off the shore of Lake Kivu, a well-thought of project that includes local communities should be established. In this case the new investment designed to scale up the extraction and commercialization of the Methane Gas in Gisenyi should also benefit local communities and help in uplifting them out of poverty visible in the neighborhood of the Cape Rubona.
To achieve this, would require to put in place sound socioeconomic and natural resources management policies that would create a conducive environment for investment in natural resources. This would involve sound social policies that would encourage community-based participation in natural resources management, political will that would facilitate and coordinate both investors and community member’s needs, strong activism that would play a tripartite role of checking on policy-makers and implementers, which is the government and investors, and encourage community members to participate in management process to improve the lives of local people and propel economic growth to a new level to ensure project sustainability and increased sense of community ownership.
This would contribute to effective management of the project whereby development is measured with the sustainability of our natural resources. To help readers understand this better, I designed a theoretical Framework for Community-Based management of local natural resources as demonstrated here below. This framework discusses five elements involved in effective management of natural resources globally whether in developing or developed countries. This includes: natural resources to manage, policy-making process to manage the resources, government political will to coordinate the management of our natural resources, investors engaged in making profits from the natural resources, and the members of the community involved in managing the natural resources. These five elements are both interactive and intertwined in nature. In the case of the Methane gas in Gisenyi, Rwanda, the above elements can either make or break local community. When these elements work in harmony for the good of the community, then the community starts seeing the Return On Investment (ROI) in terms of good schools built, improved healthcare system, increased household income, and more jobs are created in the community.
Natural resources management (Methane Gas in Rwanda): Rwanda is blessed to have various natural resources such as ores like cassiterite (SnO2), niobotantalite (Nb, Ta) 2O5, wolframite (Fe, Mn), WO4, beryl, spodumene, amblygonite, monazite, and gold (Au), and Methane gas in Lake Kivu. All these resources if well exploited and well managed them can boost the nation’s economic development. One of those resources that can turn the countries and regional economy around is the Methane gas. It can be used to generate electricity that can power the whole of East and Central African region over 100 years without alternative energy. According to the Rwandan ministry of natural resources website, Methane gas counts around 65 billion cubic meters. Methane gas can be used to make chemical fertilizer, which is very important for Rwanda and other countries in the region which survive on agriculture. This would help community farmer’s access fertilizer at lower or subsidized cost. This would increase local agricultural output and improve living conditions of the local people. The Rwandan methane gas found in Lake Kivu can also be extracted and packaged as propane gas to be sold both within Rwanda and neighboring countries such as Kenya which import its supply from as far as Russia. All this would benefit not only the Rwandan community but that from the neighboring countries, especially with the East African Community.
Government political will: is as important as finding the natural resources. This means that it would be useless or ineffective to seek to involve local community in managing local natural resources if there is no political will from the government. In recent years, there has been political will from Kigali that saw the government involved in community outreach to hold local government leaders accountable to their people. However, for the Methane gas to become beneficial to all Rwandans, more initiatives from the government must be done. One would be putting in place a natural resources policy and management commission which is answerable to the president only. This committee would comprise both experts in natural resources related issues, members of the grassroots community, and investors interested in developing by setting up both medium and large scale methane processing plants to serve domestic, regional, and international markets. If the commission or the committee on methane gas is only answerable to the president, it would eliminate the African cancerous bureaucracy that spend too much resources and time and achieve nothing tangible for the community in the end. Since the methane gas project at Lake Kivu would be the first and only biggest project that Rwanda has, it would be imperative to allow the committee in charge of implementation and development be answerable to the highest office in the country in order to expect fast and efficient results from the project for the sake of the country’s faster development. This also would demonstrate the government political will I talked about earlier.
Policy-making process: like in most African countries where priorities in investing in local natural resources is lacking, Rwanda is no exception. However it would be prudent for Rwandan policy-makers to put in place policies that require all investors in natural resources whether local or foreign to use local resources in developing the Methane gas plant in Gisenyi. This would involve getting consultancy from other countries which have succeeded in managing their natural resources effectively such as Botswana, which has become an icon in managing the Botswana raw diamond effectively. Still, this has to do with the government political will in establishing good policies on natural resources management.
Community involvement: like in many African countries policy-makers, governments, and development partners have always ignored the role played by the local communities in the success of any development project. We have witnessed international communities and our governments coming to invest in our communities but they have never engaged local residents in the development and management of the projects. These mistakes left these development projects vulnerable to the uncertain future when the development partners pulled out because they had not left any trace of their good intentions but their own shadows. One of a good example of projects that did little to educate local communities in the management and development of the project is the former Rwandan Pyrethrum Sector. People were told to cultivate pyrethrum but they never knew what the pyrethrum was used for. When the time came people opted to farm things which were closer to them such as sorghum, maize, potatoes, and wheat despite the government insistence the people defied the government and saw the demise of Rwandan Pyrethrum Sector. To avoid this experience with the new venture into the Methane gas production, it is wise for the government to involve the local communities in Methane gas production and management so that they see themselves as the first beneficiaries of the project. This would also require the stakeholders to be consultative with the communities on what they think are the first priority when it comes to development. It is imperative that the government and investors educate local people on the benefit of exploiting and commercializing the natural gas found in their area and help they understand what the benefits of the community members are. This will ensure the sustainability of the Methane Gas project and contribute to the development of the Rwandan people.
Investment & investors role: Most investors who heavily invest in Africa’s natural resources such as minerals exploitation, natural gas, power generation, and plantation come from outside of Africa such as Europe, America, and China. Their first interests are not to develop Africans but to get whatever they can as soon as possible and get out with their loot. This has been the case in various African countries such as DR Congo, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Cote d’Ivoire, Sudan, and Somalia. To avoid the repeat of the same experience it is crucial for the Rwandan government to combine both the investors and community members’ interest altogether. In the case of the Methane gas in Gisenyi, we have to remember that 65 billion cubic meters is a huge investment that can turn the fortune of the Rwandan people around within a decade. To remind investors that that the natural resources belong to the people not individuals and are there to make the lives of Rwandan people better is important. This makes investors understand that though they are investing in the region to make fortune, they must respect and invest in the people from that community. This would ensure a good cooperation among all stakeholders such as the government, investors, and the community members, which is vital to the sustainability of the project and Do No Harm development.
A community-based approach to natural resources management is needed not only in Rwanda but all over Africa. God blessed Africans with plenty of natural resources. It is a high time members of community understand how to manage their natural resources by being actively involved in making decisions that influence how their natural resources are exploited and utilized in relation to the local development. Rwanda is also blessed to have over 65 billion cubic meters of the natural gas in Lake Kivu. This Methane gas should be exploited on higher scale so that it contributes to the national development and bring in foreign currency that the country is so much in need. This can be effectively achieved only if the Kigali government put in place natural resources management policies that empower local community to participate in managing their natural resources. This would require more political will to encourage local communities to be involved and ask foreign investors to invest in both local communities and their natural resources to ensure that there is a collaboration among all stakeholders to promote socioeconomic development in Rwanda. Methane gas is a huge investment that can replace the little minerals that the country of Rwanda has and become a major player in manufacturing and selling fertilizer and propane gas in the region and beyond. Community-based management of Rwandan natural gas is crucial to accountability and holistic development approach that most of African countries so need.