Rwanda hosts its first conference on disaster risk reduction and management

Source(s): United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction - Regional Office for Africa

Rwanda’s held its first national conference on disaster risk reduction and management on 27 and 28 March 2023 in Kigali. The Ministry in Charge of Emergency Management (MINEMA), the Ministry of Environment, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), and the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) collaborated successfully to make this groundbreaking event happen. Valuable support from other stakeholders, including the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), Rwanda Red Cross, and Access to Finance Rwanda, demonstrates the importance and the strong commitment to strengthening the country’s resilience. Funding from the European Union and the People’s Republic of China complemented this multi-partner collaboration. 

Rwanda is the most densely populated country in mainland Africa. Every year, an average of 10,000 people in Rwanda are directly affected by shocks such as flooding or drought. Annually over 15,000 hectares of agricultural land are destroyed, posing a threat to livelihoods and food security across the country. The cost of these damages, around USD 300 million annually, is a significant burden for the economy and the country’s ability to reach the Sustainable Development Goals.

Honorable Ms. Marie Solange Kayisire, Minister in charge of Emergency Management, highlighted: “Considering the complexity, frequency and intensity of disaster risks increasing due to climate change, population growth, urbanization and environmental degradation, more coordinated investments and innovations are needed for us to respond to these challenges. Disaster risk reduction and management is everyone’s business, we need to think outside the box, work and learn from each other about how innovative ideas can be developed and adapted to Rwanda’s context to strengthen DRRM.”

“Strengthening disaster resilience is everybody’s business,” agreed Ms. Ahmareen Karim, WFP’s acting Country Director in Rwanda. “We have to come together to innovate and find constructive solutions for effectively reducing and managing disaster risk through integrated approaches.”

Under the theme “Working towards risk-resilient development”, high-level representatives from different institutions and organizations gathered to raise awareness and highlight the necessary actions for building disaster risk resilience across all sectors in Rwanda. Discussions included operational elements of effective disaster risk reduction and management, such as early warning, innovative assistance to households affected by disasters, anticipatory action, and data system development for effective disaster risk management. Strong momentum was built to take forward these innovations in a partnership spanning the Government, private sector, civil society, and UN system.

Mr. Godfrey Kabera, Head of the National Development Planning and Research Department at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning (MINECOFIN) stressed the importance of coordination and partnerships: “We need to consider disaster risk in all sectors. This includes government, private sector, and civil society. Disasters don’t choose who they will affect. Efforts have been done to raise awareness in government planning and the understanding has since gradually improved across sectors.”

Active and well-coordinated engagement of multiple stakeholders has been instrumental in making Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation everyone’s business in Rwanda. Overall, the event brought together 120 participants, including Government institutions, UN Agencies, international and local non-government organizations, and members of the private sector, media, research, and academia.  

“The Government of Rwanda has again demonstrated what good governance and cross-sectoral coordination achieves,” remarked Luca Rossi, Deputy Chief, UNDRR regional office for Africa. UNDRR is renewed to support the Government of Rwanda, the UNCT, and all stakeholders to build a resilient nation. UNDRR will provide all the possible technical-scientific support to enhance the existing governance and DRM capacities by integrating Rwanda into existing and upcoming program initiatives. 

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