Fishermen on the Akagera River tend their nets. Photo: Oliver Johnson / SEI.

Rwanda has committed itself to becoming a middle-income country by 2020. The country’s Vision 2020 and Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategies both set out clear intentions to intensify agriculture, increase national energy output and improve access to modern energy services.

These development goals – in tandem with increasing population growth and urbanisation – place increasing pressure on limited water and biomass resources, the latter comprising food and fodder, including crop residues and woody biomass widely used for charcoal and firewood. For example, competition over water resources for hydropower, irrigation, and water supply to major towns and various industries has the potential to create serious conflict. Meanwhile, rising demand for charcoal, construction materials and agricultural land is contributing to scarcity of woody biomass. In addition, an intensified agricultural sector will demand more energy and water per hectare, although a modernised energy sector less dependent on traditional biomass is likely to be land intensive.

In order to better tackle these multiple challenges and ensure sustainable development, Rwanda set out its Green Growth and Climate Resilience Strategy  in 2011. The GGCRS was developed to guide decisions around natural resource management, investments and policy, as well as to establish demonstration initiatives to support climate resilience activities and community livelihoods.

This report presents results from research undertaken by SEI as part of project led by Albertine Rift Conservation Society (ARCOS) that looked at how the water-energy-food security nexus approach can help promote climate-resilient decisions and model actions in the three selected landscapes along Akagera Basin. It conceptualises natural resource interlinkages through the water-energy-food nexus approach and present SEI’s ‘nexus toolkit’ used in the project. The results of a nexus policy coherence analysis are then presented, followed by the results of a quantitative nexus scenario modeling at the national level. The results of a district nexus visioning exercise are then presented before a conclusion including policy recommendations.