Climate justice and the role of microfinance in climate change adaptation in Rwanda

Liberata Mukamana, Patrick Mugiraneza, Michael Mikulewicz, Olga Biosca Artinano, Emanuella Christensen, Karin Helwig

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Aim: This paper provides an overview of the findings of two studies aimed at investigating how microfinance affects Rwandan farmers’ ability to adapt to climate variability.

Situation within the Climate justice scholarship or praxis: It has been suggested that microfinance institutions are well-placed to promote climate change adaptation products and services (Agrawara and Carraro, 2010). However, one of the biggest limitations of microfinance is its actual reach. In general, microfinance tends to benefit the economically active, e.g. members of cooperatives who are living above the poverty line. Loans do not extend to the extreme poor, having negative effects of social equity and upward mobility.

Methodology: The two studies were conducted in rural areas of Rwanda between 2019 and 2021.The first pilot study was carried out in July 2019 in Huye (Southern) and Rubavu (Western) districts. The second follow-up study is still ongoing and is being carried out in the Gisagara (Southern), Ngoma (Eastern), Musanze (Northern province) and Kigali districts. Both studies adopted a qualitative approach based on semi-structured interviews, surveys, transect walks and participatory mapping.

The two studies found that micro-loans provided by Urwego Bank had to an extent enabled some farmers to adapt to certain climate impacts. However, farmers outside co-operatives and savings groups (membership of which is a requirement for obtaining a loan) were at risk of missing these adaptation benefits due to lack of access to finance and training. Furthermore, questions were raised over young people unable to find capital to join such groups, women unable to take loans independently of their husbands, and farmers with smaller hillside plots not targeted by the microfinance loans products. These inequities in access have potential to contribute to widening social inequity and increasing climate resilience for some farmers while leaving other, less wealthy producers behind.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 22 Sept 2021
Event2nd World Forum on Climate Justice - Glasgow, United Kingdom
Duration: 21 Sept 202123 Sept 2021 (Link to conference website)


Conference2nd World Forum on Climate Justice
Abbreviated titleWFCJ 2021
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


  • climate change
  • climate justice
  • Rwanda


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