Education for building climate hazard resilience in Rwanda

This project explored the links between education, climate action and sustainable communities. It aimed to understand current gaps in formal education provision around climate-related challenges on lives and the economy in rural Rwanda.  The project worked with different stakeholders (vulnerable farmers from Rwanda’s Eastern Province, school teachers, faith leaders, CSOs, and other partners in the environment sector) in assessing the extent to which climate change education, as articulated and used in higher learning institutions, is contextualized to the farmers’ understanding and intake; to assess the knowledge, understanding and practices of the vulnerable farmers on climate hazards resilience and, to empower vulnerable populations for climate hazards resilience building.  

 One of the keys finding in the research was that farmers have basic knowledge on climate change but have no adaptive capacity to reduce the risks.  Environmental policies at higher policy level were well designed but lacked proper implementation and community understanding at community level for sustainability. It became evident that climate change and environmental policies are well-articulated at the policy level but lack the proper understanding and uptake at community level.  

Discussions with the partners revealed that they had the basic knowledge of climate change and climate information services.  A very high percentage (87.5%) received weather forecasts but did not have the ability to use the forecast to make appropriate farming decisions. Because they were not able to match on the onset of rains with planting periods or the total amount of rainfall with the choice of seeds to plant, farmers would not only lose yields but also conflict would arise in some communities.  Partners reported that they never knew that planting on different days can result in significant differences in germination rates and yield and as a result some farmers blamed their neighbors for bewitching their gardens. The project is ending at at time when partners have started using climate information for early land preparation, when to plant, selection of seeds for planting based on the amount of rain expected in the season, knowing the planting season, and planning daily farm activities based on daily weather forecasts.  In addition, other climate smart practices were being implemented such as mulching, water harvesting, storing fodder and other measures to reduce the effects of extreme climate conditions such as strong winds and floods.  

Through field observation, there was shown to be a significant difference between farms with planting based on climate information (they highly promised high yields) compared to those planted without using on climate information (promised low harvest). Partners were tremendously hopeful of harvesting high yields due to farming basing on the project capacities received.  However, there were cases where partners followed the weather forecasts but the outcome was different. For example, there was a big mismatch between the forecasted onset and the actual timing of rains.   


  1. We recommend for additional interventions to increase the number of partners with climate hazards resilience capacities. 
  1. Mandated government institutions like the Rwanda Water Board should facilitate water harvesting through provision and construct dam sheets that harvest water for irrigation purposes. 
  1. Increasing trust of the climate information through provision of accurate location and context specific weather forecasts for each local entity (micro climate/weather information). 
  1. Increasing climate information accessibility to a large audience of farmers other than through increasing airtime on radio and TV would bring sustainable results in building climate resilience. 
  1. Trained local community leaders should be given support to enable them play a key role in building adaptive capacities of vulnerable households. 
Key Themes:
Climate Action
Sustainable Livelihoods
Location: rwanda
Principal Investigator: Livingstone Byandaga
Co-Investigators: Faustin Vuningoma, Patrick Gatsinzi
Host Organisation: Rwanda Climate Change and Develoment Network
Partners: Rwanda Meteorology Agency
Duration: 12 months