How science is leading the Rwandan recovery

By: SALLY CHRISTMAS


posted on: December 12th, 2019

Since the civil war, Rwanda has invested strongly in science to help build its economy.

Before the war, agriculture was Rwanda’s main industry. But, during the conflict, many farmers had to flee their homes and farms, so could not work anymore. This damaged Rwanda’s economy. Since the war ended, Rwanda has invested in science to repair its economy and build a more hopeful future. So far, the scheme has been very successful.

RESEARCH IN RWANDA

In 2005, the Rwandan government decided to invest in science as a way to develop the country’s economy. Many countries have tried similar things, but Rwanda’s approach was unique. This is because Rwanda decided not to do research that would only be useful to scientists. Instead, leaders focused on more ‘every day’ tasks, like improving crop yield, and providing clean drinking water.

For example, Rwandan scientists are tackling the ‘potato taste defect’ (PTD), which makes coffee grounds taste of potato. This was a big problem for Rwandan farmers, because if their coffee tastes bad, companies will not want to buy it. But, since the research started, PTD has become much less common.

THE MOUNT MUGOGO CLIMATE CHANGE OBSERVATORY

An observatory has been built on Rwanda’s Mount Mugogo to track changes in the climate. This is the first African station to join the ‘Advanced Global Atmospheric Gases Experiment’ (AGAGE). AGAGE is a collaboration between scientists in many countries.

This is important because Africa is often overlooked by scientists in other places. But, climate change can have a big impact on agriculture, so understanding how it works is important for Africa’s farmers.

SCIENCE IN THE GOVERNMENT

Rwanda’s focus on science has even reached the government itself. Government ministers have become much better at using science and in a practical way. The government now uses more scientific ideas to make their decisions.

WHAT EFFECTS HAS THIS HAD?

As a result, Rwanda’s economy is growing very quickly. The infrastructure in Rwanda has also been modernised. Road systems, public transport and internet access have all been improved in Rwanda.

Rwanda still faces many problems. Many Rwandans live in poverty, and most cannot access electricity. But positive changes have been made in Rwanda since the end of the civil war. Hopefully, these changes will represent the start of a better future for Rwanda.

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