On February 8, 2022, the Rwanda Minister of Education, Dr Valentine Uwamariya officially handed over the Rwanda Climate Observatory Project to the Rwanda Space Agency (RSA). This was a sequel to the Cabinet’s meeting on October 13, 2021, and their subsequent approval to transfer the Rwanda Climate Observatory project to the RSA. In addition, the project has been operating under the Rwanda Ministry of Education from 2011 to date.
The Climate Observatory Project was initiated in 2011 by the Ministry of Education in collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to establish a world-class climate observatory on top of Mt. Karisimbimeasure to measure greenhouse gases (GHGs), meteorological parameters, aerosols and train local capacity in atmospheric and climate science engineering.
The project agreement was for MIT to provide the necessary funds to purchase the instruments while the Rwandan government provides staff and other facilities to host the climate observatory. Per the agreement, all station instruments were delivered by MIT between 2013 and 2018, including the Medusa system delivered and launched in January 2019. However, given the difficulty of accessing mount Karisimbi, the Rwandan government agreed to build a cable car to facilitate access to Mount Karisimbi. At the same time, the Rwandan government also set up an interim station at Mount Mugogo for training and capacity building.
Several local talents have been trained, and many more continue to undergo the required training to take up roles at the climate observatory. To this end, a Rwandan scientist has completed his PhD programme at MIT and is currently serving as the station’s chief scientist. Also, a masters programme in atmospheric sciences was established at the University of Rwanda’s College of Science and Technology (UR CST). The college’s first intake of 20 students graduated in October 2018, and the second intake of 13 students is undergoing. In addition, two research papers on treating air pollution and greenhouse gases have been published in international journals.
Environmental Impact Assessment for cable car construction
Led by Rwanda Development Board (RDB), some NGOs have raised concerns about the possible impacts of the cable car. Consequently, the CEO of RDB set up a conservation committee to review and update the Environmental Impact Assessment. As a result, a consultant hired by RDB has conducted the Environmental Impact Assessment for cable car construction. Furthermore, the assessment has provided recommendations and mitigations measures that will be followed while constructing the cable car.
Supporting sustainable development in Rwanda
The Rwandan Ministry of Education (MINEDUC) has partnered with the Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA) to source funds through the Rwanda Green Fund (FONERWA) to establish a Rwanda Air Quality Monitoring Project. To this end, air quality instruments have been installed in eight stations (Gicumbi, Nyabihu, Rubavu, Rusizi, Muhanga, Kayonza, Nyagatare and Kirehe) and a reference station installed in Kigali at Meteo Rwanda. In addition, air quality instruments are now correcting data analysed by the researchers and subsequently guiding policymakers for the sustainable management of the environment.
For more information about this project, kindly check here.
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