Background The Need For Environmental Information
Rwanda’s economy and the livelihoods of Rwandans are largely dependent on natural resources. However, these natu- ral resources are under increasing pressure from unsustain- able use resulting in environmental degradation (REMA 2009). The dependence of people on the environment is well known and documented. However, the scale of future chang- es to the environment, their effect on Rwanda’s development and the impact of these changes on human behaviour cannot be forecast without adequate information. Scientists, regula- tors and the private sector need reliable observations and data if they are to contribute towards the sustainable development of Rwanda.
The Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA) coordinates environmental management using both a sec- toral and cross-sectoral approach. Currently environmental data collection is largely sectoral with each institution fo- cused on meeting specific needs. This may be regulatory, op- erational or the furtherance of scientific knowledge.
Since the advent of the decentralisation policy in 2001 local governments have the mandate for environmental manage- ment, including environmental information at local level. The districts are responsible for planning and implement- ing their own environmental activities, while the central government remains responsible for environmental policy, standards, regulations, technical guidance, monitoring and evaluation. However, even at district level data management is largely sectoral.
The sectoral approach to data management does not lend it- self to current decision making. Specifically, the sustainable development approach adopted by Rwanda requires a more integrated methodology. Since environmental management is multidisciplinary by nature, cooperation across institu- tions and districts is necessary. Stakeholders working in dif- ferent disciplines and at different levels need to access, com- prehend and be able to utilize data collected and distributed from a variety of disciplines.