Since the 1960th years, the departure period of the independences of the Great Lakes Countries (mainly Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo-DRC, Uganda, Burundi and Tanzania), the Great Lakes Region has been victim and has experienced different kinds of conflicts, genocide and wars (national or international) due to the bad governance, lack of democracy, ignorance, divisionism, regionalism, imperialism, etc. These frequently conflicts and wars have killed (and kill today) a very big number of people, dispersed others into or outside their countries and have generated regional different armed militias which are mainly based in Eastern of the Republic Democratic of Congo.
According to the recent 2012 statistics from Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs (MIDIMAR), there are more than 60,000 of Congolese refugees people in Rwandan camps of Gihembe (North Province, Gicumbi District), Kiziba (West Province, Karongi District), Nyabiheke (East Province, Gatsibo District) and Kigeme (South Province, in Nyamagabe District). Only in the new Kigeme camp, there are more than 15,000 refugees and their number increases day to day. The environment in and around the camps is one the most affected by the installment of the refugees.
In Kigeme camp, environmental and firewood problems are visible and big challenges to the refugees and Stakeholders (photo FSDS 2012).
In Rwandan refugee camps, UNHCR works hand in hand with the Government of Rwanda trough MIDIMAR to offer protection and assistance to refugees. In its efforts to protect refugees and to promote solutions to their problems, UNHCR works in partnership with governments, regional organisations, international and non-governmental organisations.
The main challenges that refugees in Rwandan camps are facing today (or are subject to) concern quality and quantity of their foods, firewood for cooking, water and sanitation, health, educational, environmental, clothes problems and daily occupation. Refugee households in Rwanda remain highly dependent on the protection and assistance provided mainly by UNHCR. The lack of land (including for agriculture) and income-generating activities, limits on access to education and low skill levels all hinder self-reliance. Harsh living conditions in the camps are exacerbated by poor soil, erosion-prone hillsides, inclement weather and crowded shelters. The lack of cultivable land around the camps makes it impossible for refugees to supplement their food rations by growing their own food.
The average area per refugee for the old camps is 16.2 square meters, significantly lower than the standard of 45 square meters. With the camp populations growing by some 30 births a month, sanitation and hygiene problems have arisen. Such substandard conditions have far-reaching consequences, providing fertile ground for sexual and gender-related violence (SGBV), HIV and AIDS, early pregnancies and high school-dropout rates for girls, prostitution and survival sex, and psychosocial risks for children and other vulnerable individuals.
The site for the new camp in Kigeme is hilly and requires costly land preparation. Terracing and construction of drainage canals should be carried out to avoid landslides during the rainy season, and to make it suitable to host an estimated 20,000 arrivals by the end of January 2013. Essential and basic services, such as water (now at a rate of 8 litters per person per day), sanitation and health facilities meeting UNHCR standards, are urgently needed for the new camp.
In the context of environmental and climate change issues, the refugee camps contribute mainly to deforestation in and around refugee camps, create soil erosion and pollution, as mentioned above.
In Kigeme refugee camp area, hills like this are deeply impacted by deforestation and soil erosion by the increasing number of refugees (Photo FSDS 2012).
One of the main programmes of FSDS is about “Environment and climate change protection”. Through this pilot project in Refugees’ camps, FSDS would like to partner and collaborate with refugees, UNHCR, MIDIMAR and other local Stakeholders to minimize deforestation by introducing new environmentally-friendly improved stoves – commonly known as RONDEREZA, in Kinyarwanda language to reduce firewood consumption by refugees. Moreover, FSDS plans also to be involved in fighting soil erosion by reforesting areas impacted by a refugee presence, training of local authorities and environmental technicians, setting up of tree nurseries, and tree planting. Refugees will be involved in the latter tow activities as often as possible.
Environmental and climate change protection initiatives in Rwanda are still especially in the formal sector. Only REMA in partnership with many NGO are mainly working to carry out education for sustainable development. However, there are shortcomings noticed in this field at all the levels of education and protection related to the poor integration of environmental education at informal and formal levels, and this due mainly to the lack of specialized personnel in environmental and climate change issues.
The new approach to be used is mainly based on participatory approaches between beneficiaries, implementing organization, partners and all stakeholders involved in the project. It will address the issue of having a tailor made improved stoves, an Environmental Training Module (ETM) available for all environmental clubs ‘members, will create a Dialogue and Idea Laboratory (DIL) through Environmental Clubs ; it will raise awareness campaigns and provide interaction between youths and adults into the camp. It will also involve national and local actors in environmental promotion and climate change issues and enhance education and protection for sustainable development.
The project of construction of improved stoves – type RONDEREZA with two connected cooking places (see picture bellow) is new environmentally-friendly to reduce firewood’s consumption, its cost and pollution. This initiative will contribute also to improve the health especially of children and women, and to reduce deforestation in and around the camp.
FSDS tasted four years ago this new idea of improved stoves designated to reduce firewood consumption in Gakenke and Gicumbi districts through the environmental projects for poor families in partnership with World Food Program and MINALOC. FSDS has been informed that such project have been tasted in Gihembe refugee camp. But, the strength of the existing evidence noted is medium because it has been so far implemented on the pilot level and the involvement of beneficiaries in refugee camps was still very low due to lack of proper adopted teaching module, trained human resources and the financial resources.
The benefit of the use of improved stoves has been tasted also elsewhere in African’s countries. According to the study done in 1997 by “GROUPE ENERGIES RENOUVELABLES, ENVIRONNEMENT ET SOLIDARITÉ, GERES », the proposed improved stoves reduce at least 22% of carbons less than a traditional stoves of “tree-stones” and help to economize at least 2/3 of combustibles which will be spent by cooking with traditional stoves (Source : www.imaginationforthe people.com).
(Picture of improved stoves –RONDEREZA that has been tasted in Rwanda to be introduced by FSDS in refugee camps).
These improved stoves also reduce the fire risk especially for the children or tents’ burn and reduce the pollution from smokes during food’s preparation. Another project innovative idea is about improving the refugees’ livelihood by creating incomes generating activities trough their participatory in construction of improves stoves.
The proposed improved stoves to be introduced in camps are mainly built by using locally available materials such clay, stones, sand, water and sheets with corrugated iron.
This new approach of innovation will lead to empower refugees by providing them technical tools and communication skills which will help refugees especially youths who are active and open-minded to adopt new knowledge, attitudes and practices on environment and climate change. Besides, the implementing organisations have technical and management expertise in project management as well as a solid and extensive experience in working with communities, local authorities and multiple stakeholders and partners.
This programme concerns Congolese refugees in Kigeme camp (around 18,000 people) who have left their country since the arisen of the recent war between DRC Government and M 23, the rebel armed group operating in North Kivu Province of the Eastern of DRC. It will target 15,500 families which will be equipped with improved stoves to overcome firewood challenges and to face positively the environmental and climate change problems of the area.
The gender issue is a key indicator of equal rights and “a sine qua none condition” of FSDS’s beneficiaries identification procedures. Thus, for the present programme, at least 50 % of the direct beneficiaries will be women and girls.
PROGRAM DEVELOPMENT OBJECTIVE
The program will contribute to the environmental & climate change education and protection in Kigeme refugee’s camp, within life span of the program.
The program will upgrade the refugees’ livelihood by providing at least to 15,500 families improved stoves – RONDEREZA, incomes generating activities and skills to promote and protect of the eco-systems foresters and natural resources in their areas.
METHODOLOGY AND ACTIVITIES
In line with its “Environmental and climate change program”, the goal of FSDS for the period 2013-2015 is to contribute to the climate change educational, stabilization and environmental promotion and protection.
For this project, FSDS plan to improve the well-being of refugees by creating incomes generating activities to reduce deforestation and soil erosion such as construction of improves stoves, terraces and tree planting in and around the camps.
Furthermore, as cross-cutting activities, FSDS will improve child and youth protection by setting up the Dialogue and Ideas’ Laboratory Clubs (DILC). These DILC will be equipped for preventing and addressing not only the environmental issues but also other challenges such as sexual and gender-related violence (SGBV), HIV and AIDS, early pregnancies and high school-dropout rates for girls, prostitution and survival sex, and psychosocial risks for children, other vulnerable individual, and developing skills training and self-reliance projects for refugees.
FSDS will maintain partnerships with MIDIMAR, UNHCR, REMA, Local authorities, other humanitarian agencies and NGOs involved in well-being of refugees and environmental protection projects by financial resources mobilization, projects’ implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the joint actions into refugee camps.