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Increasing population poses challenge to Kigali environment – Kigali Environment Report

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Public Transport is still a major challenge for Kigali city

The increasing population in Kigali remains a major environmental concern despite the city being the leading city cleanliness and hygiene in East African, the third Kigali State of Environment and Outlook Report 2013 report has indicated.

According the report, the underlying forces affecting the state and future of Kigali’s environment are rapid population growth which needs to be addressed by continued efforts to put up planned housing structures, roads and sanitation facilities in order to attain a green economy.

The report that was published on Thursday states that policy makers need to focus on proper policies that will address the driving forces of environment al change; land, settlements and infrastructure; managing pollution and waste to suit this increasing population mainly caused by urbanization.

Kigali, which is home to 10.3 percent of Rwanda’s 12million people,  is also the center of Rwanda’s development and contributes at least 50 percent of the country’s GDP.

Kigali is expected to be the model of the country’s drive to achieve the green economic growth policy options and adaptations which will be used countrywide.

Kigali is also one of the fastest growing cities in Africa- which makes it densely populated each day which calls for environmental measures.

Though Kigali has also implemented key MDG initiatives such as urban planning for sustainable development, exceeded Vision 2020 target for 65 percent access to improved sanitation and about 83 percent of the population access improved water sources, the report indicates that some measures have to be taken to attain a sustainable green environment in relation to its growing population.

Kigali still needs to be a core player in curbing unplanned settlement and relocating people living in wetlands and addressing the challenge of transportation by bringing more modern and sustainable infrastructure to accommodate increasing vehicles – of which about 7 percent of the city inhabitants own cars.

Also Kigali will need to modernize energy provisions to reduce respiratory diseases and deforestation; and also address water supply issues especially among the unplanned and modern settlements.

The report also suggests that Kigali needs to address large amounts of waste water which directly pour into rivers and wetlands, affecting human and ecosystem health.

Key challenges and policy options

Basing on the provided data and economic trends and impacts, the 2013 report recommends policy options for policymakers and urban planners to consider on the path of sustainable urban development.

These include: mainstreaming climate adaptation and mitigation strategies, use policies to catalyze a green economy and all sectors should incorporate these policies, integrate in housing policies and diversify city policies to support the national building codes, create an integrated waste solid management and sustainable transport system, adopt an integrated flood management approach at watershed level, develop a framework for the city sanitation plans, among others.

The report says that the major underlying forces affecting the state and future of Kigali’s environment are rapid population growth, the hilly terrain which makes transport difficult and scarce land for suitable infrastructure development and the unpredictable impacts of climate change, and upgrading informal settlements into serviceable housings with basics utilities, sanitation and accessible roads though there have been some efforts in correcting this unplanned trend of housing, the challenge for Kigali remains on the erratic weather changes that have cost lives of some.

With all these challenges, the report indentifies some solutions which are; the need to create public awareness on changing environmental matters and integrating the environment into school curriculums, putting in place and building proper waste collection-recycling and compositing, rain water harnessing and putting incentives and awards for the sustainable best practices.

Others include: focus on renewable energy sources such as solar usage, and planned construction that provides energy efficiency appliances,  increase of Green space in addition to the already existing efforts to make Kigali beautiful, clean and green;  increase promotion of organic small scale farming; Improved cooking technology and improved sanitation at all levels of the community.

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