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Rwanda campaigns for green growth to reduce disaster risk

KIGALI  Rwanda (Xinhua) -- Rwanda on Wednesday announced plans for sustainable green investments aimed at improving environmental and climate change management in order to reduce the country’s vulnerability to natural hazards.

Speaking at a national forum on re-greening Rwanda, Francine Tumushime, minister of lands and forestry, said that green investments such as forest cover restoration, reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and reduction of the use of charcoal and fuel wood will help the country to mitigate natural disaster risk.

“From January to June this year, Rwanda was severely affected by natural disasters caused by heavy rain which claimed at least 222 people. We are putting in much effort to invest in green economy to mitigate this catastrophe in future,” she noted.

The one day meeting focused on discussing sustainable ways to boost green economy and reduce environmental risks while improving human well-being and social equity.

According to De bonheur Jeanne d’Arc, Rwandan minister disaster management and refugee affairs, strengthening risk management through re-greening Rwanda is essential for advancing green growth in light of climatic change. 

“Working together, coordinating our efforts towards greening Rwanda is one of the mitigation measures to reduce disaster risks,” she added. 

She encouraged all key stakeholders to support the recovery and rebuilding efforts in all the areas affected by natural disasters across the country. 

As part of the efforts to improve green growth in the country, Vincent Biruta, Rwandan minister of environment, said that the government of Rwanda aims to carry out environmental management initiatives that will help permanently address disasters related to climate change.

“With more natural disasters looming as we enter the rainy season, it is important that all stakeholders do what they can to help protect the environment and mitigate natural disasters,” he added. 

The meeting brought together government officials, representatives from the private sector, civil society organizations, non-governmental organizations and development partners among others.

The forum tackled the country’s major environmental issues, such as climate change, pollution, land and forest degradation and renewable energy among others.

According to the ministry of disaster management and refugee Affairs, at least 222 people lost their lives and 14,491 houses were destroyed in natural disasters caused by heavy rains across Rwanda between January and June this year. 

The heavy down pour also destroyed 8,978 hectares of crops, 49 bridges, and 754 livestock lost their lives in the same period.

Rwanda spent more than 911,915 U.S dollars as relief aid packages to the affected population, according to the ministry.

Rwanda targets to have a forest cover of 30 percent by 2018, a goal that is likely to be achieved earlier given that, presently, forest cover is at 29.6 percent of the nation, according to the ministry of lands and forestry.



Rwanda launches campaign to end mother-to-child HIV transmission

KIGALI Rwanda (Xinhua) -- Rwanda on Monday launched a national campaign to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of new HIV infections and keeping mothers alive.

The campaign, dubbed “Free to Shine Rwanda,” seeks to increase awareness, strengthen ownership and accountability to end HIV/AIDS among children and keep mothers alive and healthy, according to the Rwandan ministry of health.

A launching event, in the Rwandan capital Kigali, attracted 2,500 people, including young mothers, youth, representatives from civil society organizations, the United Nations, non-governmental organizations and government agencies.

Health minister Diane Gashumba told the event that the campaign focuses on mobilizing citizens, especially women of reproductive age, to access HIV prevention services to stop new HIV infections among children and keep their mothers alive.

“The campaign ensures that pregnant women access early antenatal care and receive prevention of mother-to-child transmission services at health facilities across the country,” she added.

According to her, the “Free to Shine Rwanda” campaign targets zero new infections by 2020 and possible eradication of mother-to-child transmission by 2030.

In 2011, the minister said, Rwanda launched the national campaign for elimination of mother-to-child transmission, and the transmission rate has since dropped from 4.3 percent in 2011 to 1.5 percent this year.


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