MIDIMAR and UNHCR launch the use of gas as alternative to firewood for cooking in transit camps

Report
from Government of Rwanda
Published on 15 Sep 2017 View Original

On September 15, 2017 - The Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugees (MIDIMAR) in partnership with UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) have launched the use of cooking gas in Nyarushishi transit centre, in Rusizi District, to improve health and reduce environmental damage caused by the excessive use of firewood.

The new gas program was launched by Hon. Mme De Bonheur Jeanne d’Arc and the UNHCR Head of Field Office, Mr. Ben Boubacar Diallo, .

Launching the use of cooking gas in transit and internment camps specifically in Nyarushishi transit centres which receives the Rwandan coming from Democratic Republic of Congo, Hon. Minister of MIDIMAR Mme De Bonheur Jeanne d’Arc reiterated the important role of using cooking gas in camps at the expense of firewood as it was before.

“It was observed that we were used to spend much money in buying firewood. Further, the use of firewood in camps mostly affects our forest cover, breeding erosion and other disasters which leave lives and environment exposed to destruction,” she said.

In his remarks, the UNHCR Head of Field Office, Mr. Ben Boubacar Diallo reiterated the important role of using gas which is in line with the agenda of UN as one in Rwanda.

“The UN as one in Rwanda is putting environmental protection as a central issue on its agenda. Testimony to this was the presence of the UNDP Country Director and UNHCR Deputy Representative on environmental Day in Kigeme refugee camp,” he said.

“In many areas around the world, the use of firewood as a source of cooking energy in camps has led to tensions with local communities and authorities. As such, the use of alternative energy is an important issue to consider not only for environmental perspective but also social, and protection related views,” he added.

The Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugees was used to spend more than Rwf900 million every year to buy firewood. However, with the use of gas in spite of firewood it will cost a half of that usual annual budget and the rest will be rolled into developmental projects.

As a pilot phase of this new project, the Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugees will replace firewood with a more sustainable, clean alternative cooking fuel: gas. The pilot will cover two transit centres, Kijote and Nyarushishi, which are receiving Rwandans coming home after living as refugees in other countries. It will also cover two internment camps hosting and rehabilitating former combatants, Ngoma and Gisovu.

At the expense of firewood, after the pilot phase, the Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugees will evaluate and decide if the use of gas should be extended in all refugees camps.

The MIDIMAR has partnered with IPRC Kigali to manufacture the equipment to use gas for cooking to replace firewood for this pilot project.