Nine villages of Nyagihunika cell in Bugesera District visit Rugarama Nature-Based Village (NBV) to learn from their achievements in improving livelihoods and environment sustainability.
On 24 January 2019, over 100 representatives of 9 villages of Nyagihunika Cell, Musenyi Sector in Bugesera District, visited Rugarama village, one of the 10 Nature Based Villages (NBVs) established by the Albertine Rift Conservation Society (ARCOS Network) across Rwanda. The aim of this visit was to learn how the Nature Based Village model works and to share knowledge and skills required for local transformation in terms of improving community livelihoods and environment sustainability. The village representatives included 5 members of village committee and 3 people representing Isibo, a cluster of households in a village.
“This is a very good model which can bring change in any village. It considers all aspects of development we want in our villages including education, leadership, self-resilience, environment sustainability, and economic development. We should emulate this in our villages and we invite ARCOS to facilitate us adopting it for sustainable development at grassroot level”, said Gahire Jean Claude, Cooperative Officer at Musenyi Sector.
Various global movements for sustainable development are rising but the journey towards sound management of natural resources currently seems quite long. Additionally, climate change is affecting the planet and further complicates this journey. The major impacts of climate change manifest primarily in the increasing scarcity of natural resources and an intensifying environmental crisis, thus mostly affecting rural communities that highly depend on ecosystems services to survive.
Integrating sustainable use of the available resources and restoring degraded ecosystems remains a responsibility for all development stakeholders including governments, development agencies, civil society, private sector and communities. However, the latter need to be educated and empowered financially and technically to ensure successful implementation of on-ground action.
Local communities are very important players in the sustainable development process. The local initiatives such as this ARCOS’ NBV Model could be adopted and supported by different actors especially embraced by the national and local governments.
“Realising the sheer number of different challenges that need to be tackled in rural areas, we developed an integrated approach that we named “BEST Approach”, an abbreviation of its four key elements, namely: Building leadership and sustainable institutions, Enhancing environmental resilience, Sustainable business solutions, Transforming and Inspiring others. This approach is showing results in its first phase and we are working very hard to upscale it in more districts and in other countries in the region,” said Dr Sam Kanyamibwa, Executive Director of ARCOS Network.
“This is a good model for local development and I think we will find a way to integrate it in all our villages. We shall start with small community commitments and seek for external support later.” Said Executive Secretary of Nyagihunika Cell. “We will integrate some of the elements of this model in our journey to self-reliance and fighting environmental degradation in our village;” added Kagusa Village Leader.
Achieving transformation at on-ground level is one of the pillars of the BEST Approach and ARCOS has developed this model of Nature Based Village (NBV) under “T” component of BEST as way to demonstrate how sustainability can be achieved at village level so that other communities can learn from these beacons of sustainable development in rural areas. ARCOS Network defines an NBV as a geographically defined village where efforts in integrating environmental resilience and socio-economic development initiatives are concentrated. These villages serve as models of transformational change toward sustainable environment and livelihoods.
We are very grateful for the support from Rwanda’s Green Fund (FONERWA) and the collaboration at all levels from Bugesera, Kirehe and Rutsiro Districts since the first day we started implementing the first phase of this model in the respective districts.
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