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13 janvier 2016

ECOBI project Underway for Implementation Process in Refugee Camps

Environmental Community Based Initiatives (ECOBI) is a project of FSDS organization, funded by UNHCR, Stakeholders-partners and beneficiaries. In a participatory approach, it seeks to empower both Burundian and Congolese refugees in Rwanda through environmental protection and management in and around camps.

The project targets directly at least 100,000 refugees both Burundian and Congolese in Rwanda with around 1,500,000 surrounding population. Foundation St Dominique Savio believes to achieve this through the environmental education and climate change mitigation with action-learning for equitable, effective and sustainable environment management.

ECOBI project is working concurrently in 7 selected refugee’s camps namely Nyabiheke in Gatsibo district, Gihembe refugee Camp in Gicumbi, Kiziba in Karongi, Mugombwa of Gisagara, Mahama 1&2 in Kirehe and Kigeme refugee Camp in Nyamagabe district. In addition to refugee camps, the project will also cover 3 transit centers (Bugesera , Rusizi and Nyanza) with the aim to improve quality of life and refugees’ productive livelihoods.

Mr. Patrice NSENGIYUMVA, the Executive Director of FSDS says : “The project will focus on specific and innovative mechanisms to rehabilitate destroyed ecosystems and to introduce new techniques that contribute to the renewable and alternative energy promotion to reduce firewood consumption.” These are lights that use solar energy, fuel saving cook-stoves that will reduce firewood consumption, tree planting, gardening and beautification of the refugees’ setting place.

He went on saying that the project eyes to build a strong drainage in refugee camps, enhancing sustainable land management in and around with terracing to prevent soil erosion and degradation.

160 thousands of trees are then also to be planted on the deforested areas in and around refugee camps to mitigate soil erosion and deforestation as well as raising awareness through training and community outreach campaigns to prevent environmental disasters and climate change risk reduction and adaptation.

The community plays a major part in environmental degradation and deforestation through their daily activities which exercise high pressure on the environment. Specifically, with life conditions in humanitarian crisis, refugees contribute much in environmental devastation and they are not responding in solution finding.
The same case in Rwanda, most of refugee camps were not engaging in protection activities to overcome effectively environmental challenges, and even only few organizations are committed to address the issue.

Generally, refugee camps in Rwanda are located in hilly zones, which mean refugees are highly exposed to disasters and climate change risks.
Protecting environment in and around refugee camps is essential not only for the refugees’ well-being free of accidents and disasters but also for the entire surrounding host population.

Written by Norbert NIYITEGEKA, FSDS Media and Communication Officer.