Rwanda is the most densely populated country in SSA and covers a surface area of 26,338 km2. Rainfall is plentiful, and annual temperature average ranges between 16-20°C, but with a 0.60 ha per household availability, arable land is scarce. According to the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda (NISR), Rwanda’s population density has increased from 321 persons perkm2 in 2002 to 416 in 2012 (NISR 2012). Overexploitation is the result, accompanied by disastrous environmental consequences. Rwanda’s protection areas consist of three national parks: Volcanoes National Park, Nyungwe National Park, and Akagera National Park. Combined, all three have lost more than 50 per cent of their original surface area in the past 40 years (Twagiramungu 2006).

The republic of Rwanda came forcefully and widely into global consciousness with the genocide of 1994 where an estimated 1 million, mostly Tutsi citizens, were killed. At the root cause of the genocide is economic displacement, food, and land insecurity. The end of the genocide marked a transition to a post-conflict nation building stage where there is collaboration between government, private sector, international development partners, and interest groups to advance the interest of the majority poor citizen. Rwanda is classified among the poorest countries in the world; 166th out of 186 (UNDP 2012); the household poverty survey stood at 44.9 per cent in 2010-11 down from

58.9 per cent in 2000-01 (NISR 2012). Extreme poverty in 2012 stood at 24.1 per cent down from the 40 per cent of ten years earlier (IFAD 2012).

Rwanda’s 2003 constitution was specifically crafted to reduce poverty and to empower citizens economically (MINECOFIN 2007). Subsequent documents in support of the constitution include the Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS), which came into effect in 2007, and is focused on the reduction of poverty in Rwanda from 64 per cent to 30 per cent, and increasing gross domestic product per capita from US$220 to US$1,240 by 2017 (MINECOFIN 2007). An agrarian country with approximately 90 per cent rural dwellers, poverty reduction strategies in Rwanda, to be effective, must be structured for widespread appeal in rural agrarian settings.

Environmentally, Rwanda’s ecosystem is at risk due to high population density and the heavy demand for natural resources. Rwanda’s efforts in urban planning have been overtaken by massive post-conflict movements from rural to urban areas, which have placed significant stress on the environment. The nation’s industrial sector is also expanding at an appreciable pace, bringing with it additional demands on the already overburdened environment. Deforestation was a serious menace until targeted efforts at reforestation began in 2010 through tree planting and support for cleaner cook stoves (EUEI 2009a). Between 2010 and 2014, Rwanda’s sustainable climate management strategy has proved successful; an additional 10 per cent surface area in the country is now occupied by forests and 5 per cent less Rwandans use fuelwood for energy generation (The New Times 2015).

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