How drought, climate change related diseases cause food insecurity to farmers in Eastern Province

By Elias Hakizimana.

Farmers from Eastern Province are appealing for support in combating crop diseases caused by climate change effects which has triggered loss of harvest in the recent agricultural season.

Abdallah Ntuyenabo, 32, is a farmer from Mukarange sector in Kayonza district, one of the Eastern Province’s Districts.

He is among many farmers in the district who are starving due to drought and crop diseases that reduced the yield of beans, cassava, maize and sweet potatoes.

He told The Inspirer that the beans were affected by a new crop disease called “ibenja”, a Kinyarwanda name and its impact on the bean plant makes it withered from early stage after germination.

The father of three said he sometimes loose a half of expected yield because of this issue.

“For the last season A, where I expected to harvest 100 kilogrammes of beans, I got only 50 kilogrammes and sometimes I even get 20 Kilogrammes. This was due to this disease and a long lasting drought,” Ntuyenabo said.

Abdallah Ntuyenabo has not only lost yield of beans, but also he lost cassava due to crop diseases./Elias Hakizimana.

He said at the moment there is no pesticide or any other solution to the issue as agronomists did not also find any solution for this. He noted that heavy rainfall also damaged crops.

He noted that the disaster effects have led to increased prices at the markets where a kilogramme  a kilogramme of beans sold at Rwf300, while it should be at least Rwf200 during the harvest period.

Not only in Rwanda or in the region, climate change issues also consist of a global issue that deserves much attention as a number of people are facing effects of disasters resulted from the issue.

Civil societies say the issue should be addressed through joint efforts and improved policies and citizen’s mobilization about the climate change, its cause and mitigation strategies to avoid its side effects on human beings, environment and livestock.

In March 2018, disasters include floods left a number of damaged  crops and infrastructures such as roads and bridges as well as the loss of lives of people and livestock. All of them are the effects of climate change occurred so far.

Hunger crisis is also one of the effects of climate change as many African countries including Rwanda are now facing crop diseases and prolonged drought during the sun season.

In Rwanda, the issue is dominant in Eastern Province where the citizens from most of the districts in the area are prone to climate change effects, especially drought.

Civil societies chip in

During a three-day-training of trainers for Rwandan’s Civil Societies in Kayonza from 26-29th June 2018, about 50 NGOs’ representatives were trained to train their members on climate change issues to better serve the community diligently.

Faustin Vuningoma, Coordinator of Rwanda Climate Change and Development Network (RCCDN), a local network consisting of Civil Society Organisations operating in climate change sector  which has organized capacity building workshop for member organizations said that there is a hope that climate change issues will be gradually addressed.

Faustin Vuningoma (Photo by Elias Hakizimana).

“Our hope is that as a global concern, we are pushing for adaptation mechanisms because we do not have a lot of emissions that Rwanda emits to the space and we did not talk much about mitigation at our level. We focus on what can be adaptation measures that can make our people be able to adapt to the climate change effects. So, we are engaging not only national level but also we try to engage continental level as we are members of pan African climate change alliance,” said Vuningoma

Lilian Umukunzi, one of the trainees from Rwanda Association of Ecologists said she learnt a lot to share with her community members in mitigating climate change effects.

“We have learnt a lot including how we can help the community in mitigating such issues, and I, personally have learnt how I will train my community members and other colleagues and make them aware of climate change effects and adaptation strategies,” Umukunzi noted.

Lilian Umukunzi from Right-Left among the Civil Societies advocating for climate change issues told The Inspirer that her voice will make changes in helping the community to adapt to Climate change effects. (Elias Hakizimana).

Dr John Musemakweri, a consultant in climate change issues said it is better for civil societies advocating for climate change issues to know related terminologies, policies and be involved in environmental impact assessment after being aware of what climate change is, its causes so that they take mitigation measures to help the government reduce its effects.

“All activities of NGOs should be in line with climate change advocacy. For example, in agriculture, NGOs should be closer the community to help identify the crops that resist to climate change. The efforts are there and what is needed is coordination” said Musemakweri.

Elias Hakizimana @theinspirerpubl

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Elias Hakizimana

Elias Hakizimana, CEO&Founder of The Inspirer Ltd,(www.rwandainspirer.com) is a professional Rwandan Journalist with Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Communication, received from University of Rwanda’s College of Arts and Social Sciences (CASS) in 2014. He served various media houses in Rwanda including Rwanda Broadcasting Agency (RBA) in 2013 and became passionate with English Online and Print Media Publications where he exercised his talent as a Freelance News Reporter for The New Times, The Independent, The Rwanda Focus, Panorama and more before he became a Self-Entrepreneur as the CEO and Founder of The Inspirer Limited in early 2017.

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