Evaluation of the Netherlands-funded Integrated Water Resources Management Programme in Rwanda (2015 – 2022)

In 2022, MetaMeta conducted an evaluation of the Netherlands-funded Integrated Water Resources Management program in Rwanda (2015 – 2022).

Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM), in combination with landscape restoration is of critical importance for Rwanda’s sustainable development and prosperity. In response to this strategic need, the Netherlands has, through the Royal Netherlands Embassy in Kigali, supported a two phase program to strengthen IWRM in Rwanda. During 2015-2022, the program has put forward a portfolio of activities and instruments for IWRM such as development of awareness and capacity, provision of technical assistance, providing funds for implementation, upscaling and embedding of IWRM. Program implementation targeted the catchment areas of Upper Nyabarongo, Muvumba, Nyabugogo and Sebeya.

Most of the program outcomes and impact are significant in reaching the landscape scale. Controlling landscape degradation i.e. erosion, landslides and flooding has been achieved with good consistency across intervention sites. The efficacy of terracing, afforestation, preventive trenches, river bank stabilization, agroforestry, gully plugging, and other supporting measures is relatively well justified against the invested financial and human resources. Institutional strengthening, especially at the central level has been significant, and consistently appreciated by key central-level stakeholders. Furthermore the evaluation found that important co-benefits regarding livelihoods, crop production and food security could be enhanced, and therefor call for stronger attention in future activities.

The evaluation concluded that the program contributed to improvements of institutional and technical capacity for IWRM at central level and district level. The IWRM program has substantially reduced landscape degradation at the target catchment area. The participatory approach towards landscape restoration of the Sebeya catchment has been widely appreciated by stakeholders at all level and significantly increased ownership of catchment level actors and of terrasses by smallholder farmers. This approach is considered a major success. Although smallholders reported increased yields immediately after terracing, this effect seems to fade out after a number of years, if farmers are unable to apply the required inputs. The evaluation report also highlights the importance of incorporating catchment management plans/structures and an exit and sustainability plan from the onset of the program beyond the initial focus on hardware alone.

The evaluation report informs the setup of a possible new combined integrated water resource management and food security programming in the Great Lakes region.