STAKEHOLDER VALIDATION MEETING ON THE POLICY AND LEGAL INSTRUMENTS AND A CAPACITY STRENGTHENING MEETING ON REVIEW OF BIOSAFETY APPLICATIONS FOR REGULATORS AND TECHNICAL EXPERTS IN RWANDA

AUDA-NEPAD has been working with the Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA) and other stakeholders towards creating an enabling environment to safely harness modern biotechnology as a tool for agricultural transformation and socio-economic development. The policy and legal instruments were recently finalized after several stakeholder consultative meetings and one-on-one consultations with the Legal Officers of REMA. In view of this, a stakeholder validation meeting was held from 29th to 30th October, 2019. Also, a capacity strengthening meeting on administrative handling and review of biosafety applications for research was conducted for regulators and technical experts from 31st October to 1st November, 2019. Both activities were held in Nyamata, Bugesera District of Rwanda.
Stakeholders were adequately represented including civil society organizations and women groups. Presentation of the final drafts of the biosafety policy, biosafety law and ministerial orders were made to the stakeholders to verify that all deliberations and observations from previous consultations have been well captured and provided for in the legal instruments. The stakeholders having formally accepted the provisions of the policy and legal instruments, unanimously endorsed their validation. A roadmap towards facilitating the enactment of the validated legal instruments was then agreed on, to be implemented by AUDA-NEPAD and REMA. Hands-on training on administrative handling of biosafety application, and review and decision making on biosafety applications through powerpoint presentations, group break-out/practical review sessions, role play and plenary discussions resulted in acquisition of requisite capacity in biosafety administration and application review for informed biosafety decision making in Rwanda.

Cross-section of participants during a breakout session at the stakeholder validation meeting held from 29 to 30 October, 2019 in Nyamata, Rwanda

Participants at the capacity strengthening meeting held from 31 October to 01 November, 2019 in Nyamata, Rwanda

Following the validation of the policy and legal instruments, AUDA-NEPAD will provide support towards sensitizing cabinet and parliament members as well as educate and empower biosafety communicators to enhance effective national public awareness activities. The capacity of the competent national authority would also be further strengthened on inspection and compliance monitoring. In addition, technical backstopping will be provided during regulatory processes.
The Director General of REMA, in her remarks delivered by an able representative, expressed gratitude, on behalf of the government of Rwanda, for the support provided towards creating an enabling environment for safely harnessing modern biotechnology. The political will and commitment from Rwanda government for the biosafety process is evident. Sustained and right support from AUDA-NEPAD will place Rwanda in a position to safely harness modern biotechnology for socio-economic development.