Rwanda is one of East African countries with the darkest pasts and its progressive move from a disastrous history to being one of the leading economic forces in the region is astounding.
Today, thanks to its leadership led by President Paul Kagame, the country has managed to be one of the cleanest in Africa.
The streets are safe and clean due to an amalgamation of policies including a plastic bag ban, a national day of cleaning up, enforcement of relevant laws as well as a collective national consciousness of keeping the nation’s communities clean.
How did they do it?
One simple step made a huge difference: banning the use of single-use plastic bags in 2008.
Today, Rwandans use bags made from other biodegradable sources, including paper, cloth, banana leaves, and papyrus.
An increase in forest cover.
Rwanda set an ambitious environmental goal of increasing forest cover to 30 percent of the total land area by 2020. To achieve this, the country undertook massive reforestation and tree-planting efforts.
Umuganda is the name of the monthly community cleanup held on the last Saturday of every month. This holistic community effort to clean up the country “is one reason that Rwanda is renowned in Africa for its cleanliness.”
Solar-powered and sustainable tourism.
There are also a number of eco-lodges and green accommodation choices throughout Rwanda. That includes a hotel in the capital that’s 100 percent solar-powered and features sustainable teak wood furniture.
The country is now turning to those who worked to destroy the natural environment for help. Other ex-poachers are now gainfully employed as porters and guides, safely taking tourists into the wild to see the gorillas.
Forests have been restored and upgraded into national parks. The parks, which are home to an array of flora and fauna, are generating more than USD300 million in tourist revenue.