Environmental Needs Assessment Report/FSDS Rwanda-Refugee Camps
I. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Most refugee camps in Rwanda are situated on hilly terrain with insufficient drainage facilities and little vegetation. These factors, in combination with heavy rains, lead to rainwater runoffs, soil erosion and increased risk of gully and ravine formation. The situation in Gihembe, Mugombwa, Kiziba, Nyabiheke and Mahama refugee camp is of particular concern : loss of vegetation cover, loss of soil and land degradation has caused landslides and severe flooding in low areas, resulting in loss of lives and destruction of infrastructure.
Refugees mentioned that there are inadequate rainwater collection, leading both to destruction of shelters and to conflicts between neighbors
Also an environmental issue in camps is that reportedly insufficient provision of firewood (100%) has led to deforestation of neighboring areas, although in this case there is a clear program of tree planting as response to the deforestation in a project MIDIMAR and FONERWA are implementing in Gihembe, Nyabiheke, Mugombwa, Kiziba and Kigeme refugees camps which covers planting trees in and around the camp. However, Mahama camp is not included in this program and needs a special attention.
According to the refugees interviewed, environmental committees in all camps are not operational, or inefficient. But in this case FSDS Rwanda has established and trained environmental clubs in all camps. These clubs will serve as trainers of trainees (ToTs) and will be used in all environmental activities the organization has in the camps.
Even though firewood is provided in the camps, the refugees mentioned that they often have to spend both time and money to secure enough fuel (firewood) to cook ; a majority of refugees go outside the camps to fetch more fuel, a practice which dramatically destroy the environment while others have to sell significant amount of their food ration just to secure the cooking fuel. It has been noticed that fuel is the main expenditures of households in the most refugee’s camps. One effort to reduce the amount of fuel needed include the use of fuel efficient stoves .It has been noticed that the so called energy saving stoves are not actually as efficient as to reduce the firewood used.
Nevertheless, myriads of environmental challenges were noticed in most camps mainly soil erosion, land sliding in Mugombwa, Mahama and Kigeme refugees camps and poor drainage system in Gihembe, Nyabuheke, and Mahama refugees camps. Another hindrance to environment is domestic animals mostly goats which destroys the trees especially in Nyabiheke and Gihembe camps.
This tool contains all information that deeply highlights the environmental situation within refugee camp. This Environmental need assessment report is made by two main parts namely the one based on physical observation and the other made of findings from refugees answers to questionnaires. The report will give you an overview of the opportunities, environmental challenges that are threatening the camps and propose a range of activities that can be taken to mitigate disaster risks in and around the camps.
The assessment was conducted basically through physical observation to identify key areas in the camp with environmental issues and questionnaires to gather information on knowledge, attitudes and practice of refugees towards environmental protection in and around refugee camp. Two questionnaires were used in data collection ; mainly the one concerns refugees themselves and had to be filled with their own information and the other which was reserved for the environmental camps manager of FSDS according to their field observation with the situation in the camp. While conducting environmental need assessment, the focus was kept on key element relating to 10 topics of ECOBI Project like energy services, biodiversity in the camp, water and other different resources available in the camp
Environmental Need Assessment (ENA) is conducted in Refugee camps for different purposes, but which are all summarized in assessing KAP- Knowledge, Attitudes and Practices of refugees in environmental protection and management. This Need Assessment is a part of ECOBI project implementation, and other future operations of FSDS organization and other key partners close to environmental sector in the refugee’s camps.
In short the purpose of conducting an Environmental Need Assessment in Refugee Camp was to :
• Identify environmental challenges and severe problems emerging in the camps. Once challenges are identified, then action can be undertaken to find out solutions.
• Assess Refugee’s knowledge, attitudes and practices (KAP). This will help to know refugees’ level of understanding and what skills do they need for better management of environment, and then after, strategies are taken to raise awareness among refugees and host community.
• Draw into recommendations for possible solutions as well as to develop a participatory environmental action plan to tackle environmental risks problems.
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ENA was conducted and prepared by FSDS STAFF : NTWALI Mulisa Olivier, Norbert NIYITEGEKA, Viateur MUSONERA, KABERA Godfrey, Sarah, VUNINGOMA, and Yvonne UWAMARIYA.
The Assessment was made under close collaboration and supervision of high class officials : Mr. Patrice NSENGIYUMVA, FSDS Country Director and Mr. Lambert RUTABOBA, the Senior Program Manager.