Dry spell informs Rwanda's tough position ahead of COP 27

Friday November 18 2022

A plantation that was destroyed by prolonged drought. PHOTO | FILE

By Ange Iliza

Known as a country of a thousand hills, moderate rainfall and friendly weather, Rwanda’s mountainous nature has been generous to farmers for decades.

However, with the recent weather patterns, prolonged dry seasons, and fluctuating rains, trouble is brewing in paradise.

In September, the Rwanda Meteorology Agency forecast indicated that one of Rwanda's major rainy seasons would see below-normal rainfall conditions between September and December.

This was particularly bad news to farmers who looked forward to the rainy season to revive their agriculture activities that had been halted by the dry season since May.

Such situations have become consistent in the country over the past few years. It is no longer debatable whether climate change is to blame after the World Bank’s Country Climate and Development report indicated that Rwanda would lose 7 percent of its GDP due to climate change by 2050.

Rwanda ranks 185 out of 188 countries in per capita GreenHouse Gas emissions and contributes only 0.01 percent of global emissions, and 29th most vulnerable and 94th least ready country.


According to the Ministry in charge of Emergency management, Rwanda loses over $300 million worth of infrastructure and crops every year. Since 2018, over 290 people lost their lives and 398 were injured while 95 classrooms, four health centers, 151 roads, 102 bridges, 22 churches, 26 water supply systems, 96 electricity transmission lines, 16 administrative offices, six markets, and one factory were damaged by the heavy rain throughout last year.

While Rwanda has been ambitious with its climate action policies, harsh weather continues to take a toll on the vulnerable, intensify high market prices and corrode hard-earned economic gains.

The Minister of Environment, Jeanne D’ Arc Mujawamariya, who will represent Rwanda in the upcoming climate summit in Egypt, says these are enough reasons to advocate for climate financing action.

“Rwanda has high hopes for this year’s UN Climate Change Conference. This is the Africa COP and we need the international community to come together and commit to real action to address the climate crisis, rather than empty promises and pledges,” Ms Mujawamariya said.

COP27 will need to pick up any unfinished business from COP26 in Glasgow, it will also be the first COP to be held entirely in the ‘implementation era’ of the Paris Agreement. Success, therefore, will depend not only on negotiations but on how effectively the COP27 presidency can catalyze concrete climate action.

Rwanda estimated that it would cost $11 billion to cut green gas emissions by 38 percent in 2030. The high cost of climate mitigation and adaptation has pushed Rwanda to join a call for international loss and damage funding.