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Rwandan Refugees and Farmers to Stand up to Climate Change

By Practical Action On 15.07.2022 FarmingNews

Refugees and local farmers are joining forces to reduce hunger, earn a better living and stand up to climate change, through regenerative agriculture and renewable energy.

Over the next two years, Practical Action’s new Climate Resilient Farming for Rwanda’s Refugees project will work to address a series of climate change-related problems faced by the farming sector in Rwanda.

The problem refugees and Rwandan farmers face

Mahama is Rwanda’s largest refugee camp and the land around the camp is shared with farmers from the local Rwandan community. These two neighbouring communities are finding farming increasingly difficult due to droughts and soil degradation – causing crops to fail. Climate change is making the droughts worse, and there are no trees to help retain the nutrients in the soil.

An innovative solution

Practical Action has put together a combination of ingenious solutions that will bring about a long-term and sustainable change in the area through:

  • Installing solar irrigation and training farmers and refugees to manage and maintain them so they can plant their crops, even during dry spells.

Practical Action has used renewable energy to help farmers adapt to climate change in a variety of contexts around the world.

  • Introducing regenerative agriculture and sustainable farming techniques (such as increasing vegetation cover and organic fertilisers) to restore the ecosystem in the surrounding area of the camp.
  • Improving access to markets, so farmers can sell crops in the refugee camp and to markets further afield, maximising their income from the sale of surplus produce.

Discover more about developing market systems that support regenerative agriculture.

Thanks to this approach, farmers can boost their harvests and income despite the changing climate.

Throughout the next two years, 80 farmers from Rwandan and refugee communities will be involved, so they can take control and transform their lives.

A long-term solution

This project will show the wider community the potential of renewable energy to transform livelihoods. By working with farmers from host and displaced communities, refugee camps will be viewed as windows of opportunity where markets thrive and renewable energy powers business.

And once the project ends, lead farmers will become changemakers – training and increasing food security for their communities so improvements continue in the long term.

Sustainable farming being taught to smallholder farmers in Zimbabwe

Working together to achieve impact

Denyse Umubyeyi, Practical Action’s Country Director for Rwanda said: “The next two years will be very exciting. We will use our extensive knowledge of working with farmers around the world and refugees in Rwanda to create transformational change. By making solar irrigation accessible, farmers will be able to improve their harvests, feed themselves and make more money with crops that can survive droughts.” 




We know this project will show how big change really start small. The lead farmers will continue to coach other farmers to adopt innovative technologies and farming practices – even after the project ends. This will improve food security, increase income and enable them to adapt to climate change”

 – Anaclet Ndahimana, Practical Action Renewable Energy and Agriculture lead in Rwanda

Laura Chow, Head of Charities at People’s Postcode Lottery said: “We are delighted that players of Peoples Postcode Lottery have raised £300,000 in support of Practical Action’s new project. This innovative project provides ingenious solutions through sustainable agriculture and renewable energy in Mahama, one of the largest refugee camps in Rwanda. Helping refugees in and around the camp to build resilience in their lives by improving their food security, production and livelihoods with regenerative and climate-adaptive farming.”

Practical Action has been awarded £300,000 by Postcode International Trust, thanks to support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery. It will create transformational change in one of Rwanda’s largest refugee camps.

On top of this, Kilburn and Strode, one of Europe’s leading firms of patent and trademark attorneys have funded £60,000 for the project. Their Innovation for All Foundation gives grants to a number of charities with the theme ‘Innovation for Good’ and we were one of the chosen charities.

For more information, or to get involved as a donor, please see our Partnerships information.