Integrity Champion Spotlight: Ministry of Environment Rwanda

  • Article type Article
  • Publication date 27 Nov 2023

The Integrity Champion Spotlight article series is designed to highlight integrity best practices that GCF Direct Access Entities are developing and implementing. This series will showcase these best practices and provide some lessons learnt for other Direct Access Entities who may be interested in establishing similar systems. We are pleased to begin this series with the Ministry of Environment in Rwanda, which first introduced this best practice during the 2023 Integrity Forum.

The Ministry of Environment (MoE) of Rwanda, a GCF Direct Access Entity that received accreditation in 2015, has recently finished upgrades to a comprehensive project: the nationwide implementation of a complaint registration system called Baza MoE. 

Baza MoE is a platform that allows users to provide feedback on different aspects of a Ministry of Environment project, express grievances related to the work of the MoE, or report any suspected prohibited practices. People can access the system online, through an app, or over the phone. Primarily for stakeholders and beneficiaries in Rwanda, this system provides one central place to report issues and receive responses from MoE staff in a quick, reliable and effective way. 

This reporting platform is critical for the MoE, which manages the country’s natural resources and oversees two GCF-funded projects whose total financing surpasses 80 million USD. One of these projects, “Building Resilience of Vulnerable Communities to Climate Variability in Rwanda’s Congo Nile Divide through Forest and Landscape Restoration” (FP217), was approved by the GCF Board at the 37th meeting in October 2023. This new project means that there might be more stakeholders who want to submit a complaint or provide feedback to the Ministry. 

Baza MoE has already been a helpful tool for both the Ministry and stakeholders in the implementation of the country’s ongoing GCF-funded activity, FP073, known locally as the Green Gicumbi Project. This six-year project, which began in 2019, focuses on strengthening the adaptive capacity of rural communities in Northern Rwanda to climate risks. The project entails restoring and enhancing ecosystems in degraded watersheds and increasing the capacity of communities to sustainably manage forest resources through practices like agroforestry. About 150,000 people will directly benefit from these resilience measures and another 380,000 people will benefit indirectly. Stakeholders in the Green Gicumbi Project have been using Baza MoE on a consistent basis to submit complaints. 

Community members attending a training in December 2022. Photo Credit: Ministry of Environment Rwanda

Developing the Baza MoE platform to its current successful state was a multi-year process. The system was first launched in 2016, but at the time it was not working effectively. So, the Ministry undertook a stakeholder consultation process with partners like Transparency International Rwanda to explore what could be improved. They also consulted specific beneficiaries of the Green Gicumbi Project to see how the Ministry could facilitate a smoother reporting process. The exercise of reviewing and improving Baza MoE lasted from July 2021 to April 2023. Over this period, the Ministry also undertook a number of training sessions with community groups in areas where the Green Gicumbi Project is being implemented so that stakeholders would be aware of the platform and how to use it. Since November 2021, MoE has trained more than 120 community members. 

For the Ministry, the updated Baza MoE system “has brought remarkable changes to the way the Ministry itself operates,” Christian Fighter Manzi, Program Manager at MoE, said. It speeds up the process of responding to complaints, because Ministry officials receive notifications when a complaint has been submitted, and there is a clear tracking and monitoring channel. The system has also boosted the confidence of citizens because there is a more straightforward way for people to interact with and receive feedback from the Ministry. 

For rural Rwandan communities, Baza MoE has also opened possibilities to connect with the Ministry in a way that they may have never had access to before. “Anyone, even those in remote areas without an internet connection, can access it,” Mamissa Ngabo Kankindi, Finance Technical Advisor at MoE, said. “Each stakeholder has access to the system and can provide information on anything related to project implementation.” 

While the system is up and running well, there are always aspects that could be improved. An ever-present challenge, said Generadi Segikwiye, Legal Affairs Specialist at MoE, is that people in the communities have different levels of knowledge on the subject matter or technology or other aspects that could hinder their use of the platform. The goal is to continuously have capacity building initiatives so that there can always be someone in the communities around a project to assist with submitting a complaint. 

Christian has been thinking about strategies to improve the platform since he and Mamissa returned from the 2023 Integrity Forum in September. Hosted by the Independent Integrity Unit, this Forum brought together 54 participants from 36 GCF Direct Access Entities located around the world. “The peer exchanges during the Integrity Forum provided valuable opportunities to learn from other organisations,” Christian said. “The feedback we had from our colleagues gave me significant ideas for how to finetune our best practices with the Baza MoE system. I believe this will help make it stronger and more robust, as well as more in line with international integrity standards.” 

Moving forward, the Ministry of Environment sees a lot of potential in working with other Direct Access Entities to both continue to improve their Baza MoE system and helping other organisations to establish similar platforms of their own. By sharing the methodology, cost, and estimated development periods, the Ministry can provide best practices and lessons learned so other Direct Access Entities can create strong complaint reporting systems too. “We all work together to achieve the GCF objectives and implement our national policies. Sharing experiences with one another to achieve these objectives is important,” Generadi said. “We are ready to provide this knowledge.” 

To learn more about the Baza MoE complaint registration system, please contact Generadi at [email protected]