The area around the Volcanoes National Park (VNP) knows the highest rate of stunting in children in Rwanda, exceeding 60%. This contrasts the view that people in this area have the best agricultural production in Rwanda due to fertile volcanic soils and cool weather that allows for three agricultural seasons with high returns. It is not known whether the reported malnutrition is due to low food availability, low food access, low food utilisation or vulnerability. This project will examine the status of food security around VNP analysing all four indicators in order to address this knowledge gap.
The overall aim of the project is to develop scenarios and a framework for the integration of food security and biodiversity conservation around VNP in Rwanda. Two workshops will be organised with stakeholders operating in and around VNP to identify synergies and trade-offs; and therefore together develop scenarios and a framework for integration of biodiversity conservation and food security. This project will also serve as a baseline for long term monitoring of this integration and may provide useful recommendations for policy reviews.
Researcher: Madeleine Nyiratuza
Region: Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda
Organisation: Kenyatta University, Nairobi
- MSc Environmental Management and Development
- Environmental Planning and Management PhD candidate
Addressing the nexus of food security and biodiversity conservation is important to reduce human dependence on resources in neighbouring national parks. However, related studies appear to be too broad in scope and tend to lose impact on policy and interventions. This research gap is also present in VNP where previous research projects examined the link between local people and VNP conservation in the wider perspective of poverty and aggregating indicators with no focus on food security.
This project will examine the status of food security around VNP, the contribution of revenue sharing and other existing community conservation projects on improving local food security, and disaggregating food security indicators from poverty indicators.
It is well documented that competition for land use affect food security. While previous research projects reveal the issues of landlessness and land scarcity as barriers to household livelihoods around VNP, none of them focused on the effects of land-use changes on local food security, i.e., whether land-use changes that took place between the 1930s (when the park was created) and present improved household food availability and accessibility or made the situation worse. This project will assess the impact of land-use changes on local food security between 2000 and 2015.
The project will involve local households and those involved in VNP areas including: Rwanda Development Board, VNP Management, Ministry of Natural Resources, Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry, Rwanda Agriculture Board, Ministry of Health, NGOs, local Leaders, local Health Centres and Hospital, Private Sector entities operating in the area, religion entities representatives of community groups, etc.
- Examine the status of food security around Volcanoes National Park
- Assess the effects of land-use changes on food security around Volcanoes National Park
- Evaluate the relationship between the conservation of Volcanoes National Park and local food security
i) Examine the status of food security around Volcanoes National Park: Conduct surveys on 400 households situated within 10 km of the Park boundary. Key informant interviews and group discussions will be held. All data from these will be entered and analysed and a report produced.
ii) Assess the effects of land use changes on food security around Volcanoes National Park: Acquire Landsat images for 4 time series (2000, 2005, 2010, 2015), and collect ground data, analysing the images for land cover classification.
iii) Evaluate the relationship between the conservation of Volcanoes National Park and local food security: Questions in the above-mentioned household survey will cover this point, as will the focus group discussions and interviews.
Successes: I received funding on 28 August 2017 and started field work in November 2017. I identified two enumerators during the first week of November and trained them during the week of 13 November. During the training, we also tested the questionnaire on 10 households outside the study area. Enumerators started conducting the household survey on 20 November 2017. From this date to 31 January 2018; we completed 246 household surveys.
During this quarter, everything went well. Enumerators used GPS units to locate the sampled points and interviewed one household closest to every point. Enumerators were also carrying the anthropometry equipment that they used to measure women and children under five. Also as they were moving they collected biophysical data at every 2 km to validate the satellite images that will be used in land use analysis. I checked data and entered them on regular basis.
Challenge: I delayed to start data collection in field due to the questionnaires review process that took longer than I expected.
Plan for next quarter: conduct the remaining 204 household surveys to reach the total number of 450. The sample size is 400 households. I added 50 more to ensure that in case some questionnaires are not well filled or some respondents refuse to answer some questions the sample size remains unchanged. I also plan to conduct focus group discussions and key informant interviews after going through the data and check if there are no findings that raise questions that can also be discussed.