The Chinese community in Rwanda has joined local residents to kick start tree planting program that will enable the country to stay green and climate resilient.
The tree planting exercise that was held as a special Umuganda (monthly community development works) was held this November 11, 2023 in Gako cell, Masaka Sector Kicukiro district.
Both communities braved the early morning rain this Saturday to plant 2,000 pine trees on a76-hectare Rebero village hill which has some trees but with a lot of bare surface area.
The group which sang and danced to Rwandan songs, was led by the Chinese Ambassador to Rwanda, Wang Xuekun and his spouse- Tao Xiangju.
The envoy was joined by the Kicukiro District Executive Administrator (DEA), Antoine Mutsinzi, Rwanda-China Alumni Organisation (RCAO), the Private Sector federation, security officials and secondary school students who planted the trees on a hill which overlooks Masaka hospital.
The special umuganda, organized by RCAO, was part of the celebration and reaffirmation of the 52nd anniversary of the establishment of the diplomatic friendship between the two countries, which has been marked with mutual respect and cultural exchange.
This particular umuganda also comes at a time when the Chinese embassy in Kigali has announced new plans to collaborate with Rwanda in environmental protection and climate resilience activities.
Ambassador to Rwanda, Wang Xuekun said that besides political and economic cooperation, China is now venturing into partnering with Rwanda in environmental protection.
“This has great meaning for us today as we mark the 52nd anniversary. The great Umuganda is a development pathway admired by Chinese people and the world. This is a good cause leading to prosperity,” Xuekun said.
Xuekun stated that most importantly the umuganda is an act of sharing between the two peoples (Rwanda and China) and a chance to mix and create friendship and depend on the existing relationship.
Chairman of RCAO, Theoneste Higaniro said that the umuganda activity is part of their strategic plans which enhances efforts to build bonds between Rwandans and Chinese.
“This activity implements our people-to-people and cultural exchange activities. When we engage the ambassador and other Chinese, they get to learn our culture and this is part of our strategic plan,” Higaniro said.
Higaniro said that RCAO members have benefited from the long China-Rwanda relationship and thus committed to have the association give back to the community through various development activities.
RCAO members and the Rwanda Wood Value Chain Association (RWVCA)- as private sector; donated Rwf1.3Million to pay health insurance subscription for vulnerable families in Masaka sector- where the Chinese government is currently constructing a new Masaka Hospital facility.
Haji Abdul Karemera, the Chairman of RWVCA said that the planted pines trees were handpicked from Nyungwe forest and donated in support from Ultimate forest company and the tree planting program will be extended to other districts.
“Our intention is to cover all bare hills with trees, but we also empower the community with health insurance so that they don’t cut young trees to pay their subscription,”
Kicukiro DEA Antione Mutsinzi said that support from partners is needed to increase forest cover on many bare hills which are in the district.
Mutsinzi revealed that in collaboration with RCAO and RWVCA, they agreed on a partnership to plant more trees but also engage communities in growing and maintaining the forests.
The Chinese people have for the last years been seen joining Rwandan residents on the official monthly “Umuganda” community work (held on the last Saturday of the month).
The Chinese including their previous ambassadors have worked on roads, trenches, terraces, cleaning bushes and neighborhoods among others with a purpose of contributing to the development of the local community.