In 2007, heavy flooding in Gishwati Forest took the lives of dozens of people and displaced hundreds of families, forcing them to relocate to Bigogwe village. Without a source of income or a means of subsistence, they struggled to adapt to their new lives outside the forest.
To answer to this need, the One UN, lead by UNDP, supported the Government of Rwanda (GoR) through the Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF). The project included strategies for increasing local economic empowerment, improving early warning and disaster preparedness systems, and encouraging agricultural adaptation.
One specific activity was to support the formation of farming cooperatives, an increasingly popular development strategy, particularly for improving the income of women and youth. By harvesting and selling their products locally, the farming cooperatives not only managed to pay back their loans, but profit through new investments and expanded agricultural enterprises.
According to Usengimana Callixte, 38, a beneficiary of the program, “The project offered fruit seedlings, tree tomato seedlings, as well as trees to boost the fertility of the soil, as you have seen in my garden. I would like to continue farming these tree tomatoes, because harvesting and selling them at a profit has motivated me and steered me to dream greater things.”
Additionally, another activity was terrace-building. Previous planting of unsuitable crops for the steep hillsides led to unfilled agricultural potential and severely increased the risk of social erosion, flooding, and destroyed harvests. By organizing the community to construct terraces, crop yields increased remarkably and Nyabihu District has become a safer and more prosperous community.