According to the United Nations’ publication African Renewal
, Rwanda has one of the world’s fastest growing economies, averaging 8 percent growth per year from 2004–2014. In 1994, 78 percent of Rwandans lived below the poverty line; today, that number has been cut nearly in half. The highest primary school enrollment on the continent, affordable and reliable internet service, a clean and safe capital city — all part of current-day Rwanda.
“We took control of the situation,” said Parfait Gasana
’18 M.E.M., a Rwandan, born a refugee in Burundi, and now an advisor to the Rwandan government. “Our leadership determined that we couldn’t wait around for other countries to step in and do the work that Rwandans should have done in the first place. We could begin anew and craft something that the world would look at as an example for developing a nation.
“Today, Rwanda is providing leadership on issues of peace, security and, most importantly, environmental stewardship. When you think of sustainability in Africa, you think of Rwanda.”
is a jack of all trades — and he’s something of a master of them, too. A trained physician, Biruta has spent the last 20 years heading Rwanda’s departments of health, public works and transportation, education, and serving as the president of the Rwandan Senate for varying lengths of time. In 2014, he was appointed to his current role as Minister of Natural Resources.
He is a statesman who warrants attention. So, when he shares his views on tackling environmental challenges, they carry considerable weight.
“Containing the warming of our planet is the single most important action we can take,” Biruta told an audience at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies last fall. “This is not a choice — this is a must. Any sector, anything you do, the environment has to be taken into consideration.”
Biruta visited Yale to sign a Memorandum of Understanding to formalize greater collaboration between Yale and Rwanda
in the areas of education and research in sustainability, environmental protection and conservation. The memorandum was also signed by Yale President Peter Salovey
and F&ES Dean Indy Burke
, as well as the deans from the schools of engineering, nursing, and public health. The reciprocal Yale-Rwanda partnership will pursue opportunities for collaborative teaching and research in support of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, foster an exchange of resources, and create new opportunities for Yale students to study, intern, and conduct research in Rwanda.