From 17th -18th November 2021, the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) in Partnership with the Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA) organized a virtual training on the application of nature-based solutions (NBS) for flood risk management. Participants in the training composed of District Technicians in charge of Construction Permitting, Building Inspection, Environmental Management, Disaster management, Road development and maintenance in 27 Districts of Rwanda, where the GCF NAP Project study sites are not located.
This training was part of the GCF NAP Project outcome 1 on strengthening the capacity and coordination for main institutions to effectively mitigate floods and prevent landslides, where District Technicians acquired knowledges on the application of Nature based solutions in reducing runoff into their respective Districts’ urban areas.
This virtual training was the extension of the training held on 12th -15th October that had previously taken place at Muhanga Secondary City for technical staffs from key Government Institutions, practitioners, engineers, RYWP, Greenpreneurs and the sub-national entities of Rusizi, Huye, Kamonyi and City of Kigali where the GCF NAP Project study sites are located. The Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) as the delivery partner to the Green Climate Fund National Adaptation Readiness and Preparatory support for building flood resilience capacities in Rwanda, a project under Implementation through Partnership with Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA) – the Rwanda National Designed Authority, the Ministry of Environment (MoE) – the Accredited Entity (AE) to the Green Climate Fund (GCF), organized this training to provide the basic knowledge and skills on designing and applying the Nature-Based Solutions to reduce runoff and flood risks in Urban Areas.
The attending participants such as the construction Permitting Officer; Building Inspector, Environmental Officer, District Disaster Management Officer and the Road development and maintenance Engineers were prioritized for this training because of the expected positive impacts that their daily basis work and responsibilities can have on runoff reduction. First day had 28 online particopants who were introduced to the two part training, the first part was an introduction to Nature Based Solutions (NBS) explaining different principles and approaches for NBS application in different cases, in the context of Rwanda. Participants were also introduced on common runoff computation methods. The second part focused on how and where to integrate NBS into the construction permitting and building inspection process.
During the discussions, participants exchanged views on why NBS are not widely applied by the general community and one of the participants, Musoni Protais, the Environmental officer from Musanze District, highlighted that the main issue is the current limited awareness on the benefits of NBS and expressed his hope that with time, people will get to a level where they will all understand the benefits of NBS application to their homes and neighborhoods. An illustration to this is the fact that some people are getting to know that impermeable pavements are accompanied with environmental risks such as high runoff and they are trying to shift to other approaches like maximizing the proportion of their plots covered with grasses and trees. He further suggested that NBS application awareness should be scaled up to local leaders so that they can support the awareness campaigns to communities at large.
The second day with 38 online participants targeted Technicians from the remaining Provinces of the Country namely the Eastern, Southern and City of Kigali. The second day training was attended by 31 District technicians and 15 students from the University of Rwanda. The participants in this training were also introduced to NBS and elaboration of NBS main principles concerning water quantity and quality, biodiversity and amenity which respectively include the control and reduction of runoff to mitigate downstream flooding; Managing quality of runoff to mitigate risks of pollution, Creation of better urban landscapes and open green spaces; and creation of better urban space for people. Participants were also equipped with knowledge on the NBS best approaches to reduce the runoff, including the (1) rainwater harvesting systems; (2) Green roofs; (3) Urban Trees; (4) Permeable pavements; (6) Grassed Swales; Detention basins; (7) Geo-cellular attenuation storage systems. Participants were told that any of the above approaches or a combination of some of them can be adopted after analyzing which one can be suitable in a specific area, since all of them can not be applicable everywhere in urban areas.
In his Presentation, Francois Tetero, the GCF NAP Senior Officer explained that the weighted runoff reduction of upstream NBS Components (rainwater harvesting; green roofs; urban trees and permeable paving) represents 36% of runoff reduction, and he encouraged the participants to adopt these NBS and apply them into their respective Districts as the main objective of the training was about sharing practical knowledge that can be applied in the built environment. In his explanation on the integration of NBS into construction permitting services, Richard Ndicunguye, the Green Urbanization District Technical Assistant provided examples to illustrate the negative effects associated with flooding and landslides in our communities.
He therefore highlighted some of the different stages of construction permits application process, where NBS can be integrated to contribute to runoff reduction in the District. He said that NBS can be integrated into stages of construction permitting process such as:
(1) site Plan and landscaping;
(3) Mechanical, electrical, sanitation, and fire safety;
(4) Structural design; and
(5) Green Building Minimum Compliance.
Theogene Nsengiyumva, the GGGI Green Urbanization District Technical Assistant highlighted the key areas where NBS can be integrated into building inspection among other detailed inspection elements provided by the Rwanda building code of 2019. He provided explanation on how NBS application can be monitored and adopted during
(1) the excavation and earthworks of the new building,
(2) at foundation inspection works and
(3) during the occupancy inspection level.
He said that considering elements such as soil treatment, erosion control, plumbing and draining systems, rainwater harvesting and sewerage treatment need to be a priority for any building inspector, who is the most suitable person to advise people on these NBS feasibility and application into their communities.
During the discussion on challenges related to NBS adoption and application into our communities, Aimable Munyenganizi, the Road development and maintenance Engineer at Muhanga District raised a concern on mining activities, saying that among other changes needed in matter of NBS application the mining sector should change some of its operations. He explained that no trees are planted after mining activities as promised by investors in mining sector (when applying for mining business permits to exploit stones, sands, etc from the ground for construction purpose, especially in urban areas).
Moving forward, GGGI team will continue supporting the awareness raising on the application and benefits of NBS in the built environment and the development of NBS associated bankable projects.