data or the inadequate level of technology that limits their ability to acurately predict the weather. With only a few stations opera- tional, making use of weather-related information is a real chal- lenge (Twahirwa 2009). But the government is aware of this and has set up mechanisms to address these shortcomings (REMA 2009). This situation is not unique to meteorology. In the water sector only 22 out of an existing 69 hydrological stations are fully functional affecting the data integrity and regular update of in- formation on national water quality and quantity (REMA 2009).
One of the requirements of this assessment was to highlight any existing networks – in Rwanda or with neighbouring coun- tries - that could either be promoted or included in the pro- posed Rwanda Environment Information Network. It further investigated the existence or non-existence of a national spatial data infrastructure (SDI) in the country.
Evidence of networking activities
Networking as a concept appears to be well established among institutions working in the environmental sector in Rwanda. There are a number of networks, steering groups or commit- tees made up of institutions inside the country, and some with institutions outside Rwanda. Whereas most of these networks operate without a formal agreement, some have formalized their working relationship. Some examples are listed below:
• CGIS-NUR has formal agreements with ITC (Faculty of Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation of the University of Twente) in the Netherlands, the Regional Centre for Mapping for Development (RCMRD) in Nai- robi, and University College of Lands and Architectural Studies (UCLAS) in Dar-es-Salaam. They also have for- mal agreements for data supply with the Wildlife Con- servation Society (WCS) and the Ministry of Education for school data.
• The Rwanda Development board has formal agreements with the protected areas management – the Volcanos, Nyungwe and Akagera National Parks; International Gorilla Conservation Programme, Wildlife Conserva- tion Society, Karisoke Research Centre and others.
• REASON, which coordinates the environment clubs in Rwanda, has formal agreements with UNEP, RENGOF, Kenya Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI), Interna- tional Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and REMA in the areas of publications and training.
• MINELA coordinates the Environment and Natural Re- sources Sector Working Group.
• RECO-RWASCO has formal agreements with mining companies for mining data.
• Rwanda Initiative for Sustainable Development coor- dinates the Landnet and has formal agreements with some of its data providers.
• The Rwanda Environmental NGOs Forum coordinates the environmental NGOs, but does not have any formal agreements for data supply.
• The Ministry of Health is involved in the Water and Sanitation Steering Committee and the National Steer- ing Committee of Environmental Health and Hygiene.
• The Albertine Rift Biodiversity Information Monitor- ing System bringing together Burundi, Democratic Re- public of Congo, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda.
• The World Network of Biosphere Reserves between the UNESCO-MAB and l’Offi ce Rwandais du Tourisme et des Parcs Nationaux (ORTPN).
• The Rwanda Devinfo - the national database for the management of the Government of Rwanda monitor- ing information.
Institutions belonging to these various networks exchange data in a multiplicity of formats and scales. It is likely that diffi culties are experienced when exchanging data due to differences in data collection methodologies, data structures and the predominant absence of data release policies. In ad- dition, the lack of an information strategy to guide the entire information life-cycle process could be a hindrance to im- proved management.