While the rest of the world is finally waking up to the effects of global warming and the positives of making policies around environmental conservation, Rwanda today seems to have taken initiative ahead of the rest of us. No wonder the United Nations declared Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, as the most beautiful city in Africa and the third greenest city in the world.
True to its titles, one thing that strikes you as you enter the capital city of Rwanda is the sparkling clean, cool and serene environment in comparison to any other major city in Africa. What you may not know immediately is the deliberate effort made toward achieving this green environment.
In a bid to conserve the environment, Rwanda has passed stringent laws aimed at ensuring every citizen or foreigner adheres to the non-pollution course. It also adheres to a tradition of community service to help keep the country clean.
Of the various measures employed by Rwanda today to conserve the environment, one that stands out is the ban on the import of non-biodegradable plastics. This move has, over the years, made Rwanda free of plastic bags and bottles, which are a common environmental pollutant in other African cities. To further enforce this, all visitors entering Rwanda are thoroughly frisked of plastics at airports and border points.
Umuganda, The Monthly Day Of Community Service
The government designated one day per month where everyone in Rwanda comes together to clean their environment. The day is locally referred to as “Umuganda,” which stems from a Kinyarwanda word roughly translating to “coming together in common purpose to achieve an outcome.”
On such a day, most streets are empty, shops are closed and many other services are temporarily halted as people embark on cleaning their city. Rwanda’s president, Paul Kagame, has also been spotted in public participating in Umuganda’s activities.
Rwanda Tackles Noise Pollution And Surrounding Issues
Recently, the Rwanda National Police (RNP) have threatened to indefinitely close over 700 churches, mosques and night clubs in Kigali with if they did not sound-proof their buildings. According to the RNP, the houses of worship were also unsafe and failed to meet basic safety and hygiene standards.
As a result, it will now cost you up to $1,170 or a maximum of two months in jail if charged with noise pollution in Kigali. Serious offenders can be subject to both punishments.
A statement earlier released by the RNP, had in-part read, “Rwanda National Police (RNP) reminds the general population that beliefs and activities that create noise pollution and undermine people’s safety and well-being are illegal and punishable by law.”
The head of the Rwanda Governance Board, which oversees public and private organizations, also released a statement saying, “Some churches conduct their worship services in shoddy and unclean structures to the detriment of people’s health and safety. Cases of noise pollution have also been reported while some operate without the required operation permits.”
About 1,500 churches, mostly Pentecostal, were closed down due to a failure to comply with the new ordinance, and all mosques in Kigali were ordered to remove their loudspeakers. The government said the Muslim community had complied with the orders, which is why the mosques were not shut down. Muslims make up about 5 percent of Rwanda’s population, with Christians serving as the majority.
Kigali street view
Rwanda today is still recovering from the 1994 genocide that left almost a million people dead and plunged the country to rock bottom both economically and socially. Yet the current development directives and dedication to conserve the environment is one of many amazing features about the poorly marketed continent.
By Alex Muiruri
The Express News