New partnerships launched to bolster climate services in Rwanda

A farmer in Rwanda's Ngororero district speaking during a USAID visit to the Rwanda Climate Services for Agriculture project. Photo: A. Nyandwi (MINAGRI Rwanda)

Two new partnerships are deepening capacity and broadening the reach of agricultural climate services in Rwanda.

Not having access to timely, location-specific climate information makes it very difficult for smallholder farmers to make informed decisions regarding their agricultural livelihoods. Since late 2015, the Rwanda Climate Services for Agriculture (RCSA) project has been enhancing the production of improved climate information, and training intermediaries within Rwanda’s national extension service to bring this information to smallholder farmers. The project is supported by the US Agency for International Development (USAID).

RCSA uses the Participatory Integrated Climate Services for Agriculture (PICSA) approach to bring climate information to smallholder farmers. It also aims to empower them to make better decisions based on improved understanding of climate risks and their own goals. To date, over 1,000 government staff and volunteer farmer promoters have been trained. In turn, they have trained more than 100,000 farmers in the PICSA process.

A preliminary assessment during the first implementation season, based on a survey of 8% (randomly sampled) of the 2631 participating farmers, confirmed the effectiveness of PICSA. Most participants changed their management practices in response to the climate information and training (93%); perceived improvements in their confidence and their household food security and income; and shared information with an average of 13 peers.

New partnerships with the Department for International Development (DFID) of the UK Government, and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) are now supporting the development of robust climate services across Rwanda.

Farmers receive training on climate information as part of the Rwanda Climate Services for Agriculture project. Photo: A. Nyandwi (MINAGRI Rwanda)

Post-Harvest and Agribusiness Support project

In April 2018, the DFID-funded Post-Harvest and Agribusiness Support (PASP) project formalized a partnership with the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) to embed climate services in farmer and agribusiness cooperatives, and in the Rwanda Youth in Agribusiness Forum (RYAF).

RYAF is a platform that brings together young entrepreneurs in agribusiness, aiming to positively change the way young people perceive the agri-business sector and encouraging them to join other agricultural business-oriented groups for development. 

The PASP aims to reach 32,400 households, or 155,518 individuals, with climate services. Considerable progress towards these ambitious targets has been made. Through PASP, CIAT has trained cooperative members and RYAF members in the PICSA process, including:

  • 48 intermediaries from the leadership of 16 PASP farmer cooperatives across four districts
  • 2,397 farmers (45% female) from these 16 cooperatives
  • 73 RYAF members and 9 PASP staff

Weather and Climate Information Services for Africa program

In July 2018, the Weather and Climate Information Services for Africa (WISER) program launched a new partnership in Rwanda between the UK Met Office, the Rwanda Meteorological Agency (Meteo Rwanda), CIAT and the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI) at Columbia University’s Earth Institute. The program receives support from DFID. Still in its early stages, this dynamic partnership aims to enhance and scale up the co-production of climate services and impact-based early warning for improved climate-risk management in Rwanda. Activities will focus on:

  • Enhancing the capacity of local government and Meteo Rwanda to co-produce and use seasonal climate information for agricultural planning
  • Increasing access to timely impact-based early warning services (EWS)
  • Supporting a functional multi-sectoral coordination committee to guide the co-production of effective climate services at national and local government levels

Television screens will be installed in the government offices of 70 sectors* identified as having high climate vulnerability. On the screens Meteo Rwanda Maproom products will be displayed in order to inform local government decision-making in these climate-sensitive localities. 

Project activities will build on climate information products, tools and capacity developed by the umbrella RCSA project mentioned earlier. For instance, through CIAT CCAFS developed a participatory monitoring, evaluation and learning (MEL) methodology. MEL will enable real-time feedback to adapt programming to local contexts, and support the dialogue needed to engage farmers and local government in the co-production of climate services.

Occurring alongside the foundational RCSA project, these new partnerships weave a common and reinforcing thread to create robust climate services across Rwanda. “The interconnections between these projects, building on a long trajectory, have made these partnerships a success,” concluded Desire Kagabo, RCSA Project Coordinator.

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*A Sector is the lowest-level government administrative unit in Rwanda, where local government plans are implemented.

The Post-Harvest and Agribusiness Support Project (PASP) is funded in part by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) through the International Fund for Agriculture's (IFADAdaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme and led by the Rwanda Agriculture Board. The Weather and Climate Information Services for Africa (WISER) project is also funded by DFID through the United Kingdom Meteorological Agency. The Rwanda Climate Services for Agriculture (RCSA) project is funded by USAID/Rwanda and managed by the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT).

Desire Kagabo is Project Coordinator for RCSA at CIAT-Rwanda. Yvonne Munyangeri is Project Assistant at CIAT-Rwanda. Gloriose Nsengiyumva is Project Outcome Coordinator at CIAT-Rwanda. Alison Rose is Science Officer for CCAFS Flagship on Climate Information Services and Climate-Informed Safety Nets based at IRI. Seble Samuel is Communications and Knowledge Management Officer for CCAFS East Africa.