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Real life stories: Climate change in Rwanda

  • 2 December 2021
Fr Ernest Ngiyembere SJ held a focus group to ask the people of the Bugesera District how climate is affecting their lives.

How has climate change affected you?

The unpredictable rain patterns affect the people in this region a lot. Increasing amounts of sun dry up the crops and vegetation. Batima said “I can be late for school because of water shortages and sometimes I only eat once a day because there are only a few crops which can survive.” On the mornings Batima is late for school, she must collect water many kilometres away from home. She lives in a rural area without running water, in recent years the springs nearby her home have dried up.

How have weather patterns changed? What do you notice about them today?

Nowadays, there is less and less rain. The dry season is lasting longer. When it does rain, it is very little and is follows no pattern, it is irregular. This affects the vegetation and animals which live in the area. It also affects the planting season as the rainfall is so unpredictable now.

Has climate change affected food and water supplies?

Yes. There is so many food shortages that people have migrated to other areas of the country. Since the severe drought in Rwanda in 2000, the dry seasons are frequent.

Are you concerned about the future especially that of the younger generation?

Yes, there is a concern for future generations and for this reason efforts are being made to plant trees to help protect the soil and preserve rainwater. We are hoping to prepare a better standard of living for future generations.

If you could speak to your government’s representatives at the COP, what would you say?

Batima said “If I got an opportunity to meet with the government representative at the COP, I would ask them to encourage the government policy for re-forestation in our region and to educate people about the importance of forests and consequences of deforestation.”

Supporting those affected by climate change in Rwanda

According to the IEDRO, the average maximum temperatures in Rwanda rose by 3 degrees between 2001 and 2010. Jesuit Missions is currently supporting the Jesuit Urumuri Centre (JUC) in Rwanda, which helps young people learn and practise environmental conservation. JUC recently held a conference which was inspired by Laudato Si’. The conference saw hundreds of young people from the Great Lakes Region in Africa attend to learn more about what they can do to prevent the devastating effects of climate change.

 

You can play a part in supporting communities affected by climate change by donating to Jesuit Missions today. 

 

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