A new research project from the University’s Centre for Climate Justice seeks to give a voice to rural Rwandans whose lives have been affected by floods and other natural disasters.

The 15-month project, funded by the Global Challenges Research Fund administered by ESRC, aims to put local women and people with disabilities from the Eastern Province together with development practitioners, policymakers and academics to discuss what climate resilience means to them, and what kinds of resources, knowledge and capabilities are necessary in Rwanda for making resilience policy and programming more equitable.

The £200,000 project will be led by GCU’s Dr Michael Mikulewicz, with support from the University of Stirling, Coventry University, University of Rwanda, Send a Cow Rwanda, Send a Cow UK, and the Rwanda Ministry of Environment.

Dr Mikulewicz said: “Over the past two decades, Rwanda has experienced periods of severe flooding and drought, resulting in extensive damage to crops – which has affected more than two million people – in addition to destruction of infrastructure and even loss of life. These climate impacts effect certain people more than others, and women and persons with disabilities are two such disproportionally affected groups. It is therefore vital to build their resilience to climate shocks.

“However, policies, programmes and projects aiming to do so have been criticised by many scholars as affording insufficient attention to the needs of marginalised and vulnerablegroups. In some cases, this has been shown to lead to increasing inequalities and vulnerability rather than resilience.”

Over the course of the project, the research partners will ensure participation from key stakeholders and hope to hold a total of 42 events at both local and national level.

Dr Mikulewicz said: “As part of these events, we will adopt an approach whereby attendees will become co-researchers on this project, ensuring that their views, needs and priorities are adequately addressed. 

“All these activities will aim to build research and technical capacity among Rwandan academics, practitioners and policymakers to meaningfully include women and persons with disabilities in decision-making and research, to hear their stories and to involve them in planning for more equitable resilience.”

At the end of the project, the research partners will host the Rwanda Equitable Resilience Forum, bringing all stakeholders together.