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The President of Livelihoods Funds, Bernard Giraud with APEFA staff led by its Executive Director Oscar Nzabonimpa and Felix Rurangwa from the Ministry of Environment have conducted visits at sites in the Southern Province as Livelihoods Funds look to fund a potential REDD+ project in Rwanda with APEFA as an implementing partner.

The 3-days visit of Livelihoods Funds President, Bernard Giraud followed that of Livelihoods Funds staff who had visited beneficiaries of some projects related to restoration and preservation of ecosystems APEFA has implemented in different districts of Rwanda.

The visit with Bernard Giraud started on 26 July 2022 in Nyanza District where APEFA implements the project “Community capacity building in the areas of agroforestry and forest landscape restoration in the Mayaga region’’.

The visiting team visited sites in Muyira Sector of Nyanza District where agroforestry trees were planted in beneficiaries’ lands and also met environment group members who highlighted problems they face leading to environment destruction.

Agroforestry trees in Muyira Sector

Among them was the fact that some do not own improved cook stoves to help them limit the use of fuel wood that impels them to exploit Kibirizi natural forest. They appealed for the support to fund an income generating project that would help them stop going to the forest for wood.

Many projects they proposed to improve their livelihoods is the beekeeping project and they asked for a training in beekeeping as most of them say they don’t have skills in that domain.

Environment committees members asked for training in beekeeping as an income generating project that would help change their livelihoods
Joy for residents and visitors after talking about challenges and possible solutions for environment protection

In Nyanza also, they visited a tree nursery owned by the youths from different sectors of Nyanza District. They were trained by APEFA on tree seedlings production and they formed a cooperative in which they regularly meet for the trees nursery activities. They were advised to introduce fruit trees seedlings in the nursery as they attract most the market.

APEFA promised to look the market for them once the seedlings grow.

APEFA Executive Director speaking to youth cooperative members owning the nursery
The tree seedlings nursery in Nyanza

The journey continued to Nyamagabe District’s sectors neighboring Nyungwe National Park on 27 July 2022 while they visited Wimbogo village in Ruheru Sector neighboring Nyungwe National Park on Nyaruguru District side on 28 July.

Communities illegally cutting Nyungwe National Park’s buffer zone trees for wood

On their way to Nkomane Sector of Nyamagabe District, the visitors met children carrying loads of wood. Seeing the cars slow down, they threw the loads down and ran away to save their lives.

Stolen loads of fire wood

“They apparently ran as they feared being caught by those they thought are authorities because they stole the wood from the park which they know is illegal,” Espoir Muramira, a Community Liaison Officer at Nyungwe National Park told the visitors.

Looking at firewood ”stolen” from Nyungwe Park buffer zone forest

Meeting the residents of Nkomane Sector living nearby Nyungwe National Park, Livelihoods Funds President Bernard Giraud asked them why they still go into the park and what they think can be done for them to stop entering the forest.

Residents said they go to Nyungwe for the wood, grasses for fertilizers and proposed different projects that would change their livelihoods.

Livelihoods Fund President speaking to residents of Nkomane Sector
Oscar Nzabonimpa, APEFA’s Executive Director greeting Nkomane Sector residents

In the forest planted around 50 years ago as a buffer zone to protect the natural forest, they are using traditional beehives for honey. The traditional beekeeping is done in a way that could result in fires that can burn Nyungwe Forest.

Problems residents of Nkomane raised don’t differ from those highlighted by those in Buruhukiro Sector in Nyamagabe.

With traditional beekeeping done in Nyungwe National Park buffer zone, there are risks of fire mostly in summer seasons

In Ruheru Sector of Nyaruguru District where the team turned up on July, the visitors talked to residents of Ruheru Sector living in Wimbogo Village.

Neighbors of Nyungwe National Park said they “owe their life to Nyungwe National Park’’ where they go due to poverty, looking for fodder for livestock, firewood to sell and cut trees for charcoal.

Stoves used by residents of Wimbogo Village are not improved and they use much wood

Among projects they proposed are bamboo handicraft business and the planting of grass for livestock which would stop them from entering the park.

Mr. Bernard Giraud thanked the communities for having told the visitors the reasons why they still enter the Park and for the projects proposals they raised. He told them he “will go and review your needs and will come back with projects that will help change your livelihoods.”

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