This page presents Rwanda's climate context for the current climatology, 1991-2020, derived from observed, historical data. Information should be used to build a strong understanding of current climate conditions in order to appreciate future climate scenarios and projected change. You can visualize data for the current climatology through spatial variation, the seasonal cycle, or as a time series. Analysis is available for both annual and seasonal data. Data presentation defaults to national-scale aggregation, however sub-national data aggregations can be accessed by clicking within a country, on a sub-national unit. Other historical climatologies can be selected from the Time Period dropdown list. Data for specific coordinates can be downloaded for in the Data Download page.
Rwanda has a tropical climate characterized by its hilly landscape stretching from east to west. The country has four primary climatic regions: eastern plains, central plateau, highlands, and regions around Lake Kivu. The eastern plains receive an annual rainfall of between 700 mm and 1,100 mm, with mean annual temperature oscillating between 20°C and 22°C. The central plateau region enjoys rainfall of between 1,100 mm and 1,300 mm, with an annual mean temperature of between 18°C and 20°C. The highlands, including the Congo-Nile Ridge and volcanic chains of Birunga, benefit from an annual rainfall of between 1,300 mm and 1,600 mm and experience annual mean temperatures between 10°C and 18°C. Regions around Lake Kivu and Bugarama plains get annual rainfall of between 1,200 mm and 1,500 mm with annual mean temperatures between 18℃ and 22℃. Overall, the country’s four climactic seasons are represented through the long rainy season: March to May, and short rainy season: September to November. These seasons alternate with the long dry season: June to August, and short dry season: December to February. Mean annual temperature for Rwanda is 19.1℃, with average monthly temperatures ranging between 19.5°C (September) and 18.5℃ (July). Annual precipitation is 1,170.2 mm. Rainfall is experienced throughout the year in Rwanda, with most significant rainfall occurring from September to May.
- In Rwanda, the high degree of interannual and interdecadal climate variability and lack of historical records has made climate trends in the country difficult to determine.
- Average annual temperature ranges between 15℃ to 17℃ in high altitude areas and up to 30℃ in lowlands in the east and southwest. Regional temperatures for central-east Africa saw average increases of 0.29°C per decade from 1985 to 2015.
- Temperature increases have been experienced, 1971 to 2016 showing increase in mean temperature of between 1.4°C and 2. 6°C in the south-west and eastern regions of Rwanda.
- Increased interannual variability in recent decades was also observed, for example average increased temperature from 2012 to 2014 increased by 0.79℃.
- Rainfall trends have shown an increasing occurrence of extremes since the 1960’s across various regions of the country with the El Niño Southern Oscillation influences precipitation trends during El Niño years.
- The annual rainfalls in Rwanda exhibited high fluctuations since 1961 to 2016. Over this period, mean rainfall significantly decreased in January, February, May and June, but with a significant increase September to December across the country.
- Rwanda’s eastern region has experienced frequent dry episodes from September to December.
- In the northern and western provinces, rainy seasons are becoming shorter and more intense, which has resulted in increased erosion risk in these mountainous areas of the country.