Historically, national parks were developed along protectionist principles to stave off illegal extraction of plants and wildlife. However, there have been calls to involve local communities in sustainable management of natural resources in recent years. The main objective of this study was to examine the economic activities carried out by rural women located near the Virunga National Park (VNP) in Northern Rwanda. The research also determined the role of such activities in enhancing their financial condition. A total of 118 respondents were selected from Musanze District using a multi-stage sampling technique. Data was mainly collected through a structured questionnaire transcribed in Kinyarwanda. Iteratively Reweighted Least Squares (IRLS) robust regression and descriptive statistics were used to analyze the data. The results showed that basket weaving and agriculture (crop and livestock) were important activities in the lives of rural women. However, most women earned less than 44,190.71Rwf ($73USD) per year and lived in extreme poverty. IRLS robust regression results suggested that location, self-confidence and the type of economic activity were statistically associated with annual household income (p<0.05). These results revealed the importance of building self-confidence and exploring location-specific business opportunities for enhanced incomes among rural women.

Author Biography

Edward Mutandwa is a Lecturer, Department of Rural Development and Agribusiness, Higher Institute of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry (now University of Rwanda), P.B 210, Musanze, Rwanda

Seraphine Wibabara is a Research Assistant.