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Environmental causes and impacts of the genocide in Rwanda: Case studies of the towns of Butare and Cyangugu

V Moodley
A Gahima
S Munien


The history of the world has always been punctuated by cycles of violence,
regardless of time, region or race. Genocide, which is one of the worst forms of violence, has always led to horrific socio-economic and environmental impacts. The last decade of the 20th century was the most turbulent Rwanda has ever experienced in its history. The country was ravaged by civil war, genocide, mass migrations, economic crisis, diseases, return of refugees and environmental destruction. Rwandan families were affected by and are still dealing with impacts such as death, disease, disability, poverty, loss of dignity and imprisonment. This paper uses a geographical perspective, more specifically the geography of conflict, to assess the environmental causes and impacts of the genocide in Rwanda, more than a decade after the genocide. Primary data used in this article were obtained from fieldwork undertaken in Cyangugu and Butare Towns, case studies chosen not only because of their particular history before,  during and after the genocide but also because of their heterogeneous population and physical landscapes. Empirical evidence obtained and secondary data sources indicate that the genocide in Rwanda destroyed not only human resources and social and cultural structures but also infrastructure, development facilities and natural resources which had serious negative consequences on the total environment.

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eISSN: 1562-6997