By Elias Hakizimana.
Water scarcity in some parts of Rwanda especially Eastern Province has been an issue, exposing farmers to hunger crisis due to drought that has been causing crop failure.
The government has so far made significant interventions to rescue farmers from that hurdle.
With the collaboration of development partners such as Feed the Future-Hinga Weze USAID funded project, the country has now made a significant step in transforming agriculture.
The World Water Day 2019 that was celebrated on 21 March 2019 with the theme “Leaving no one behind” left some inputs and ideas for the country to think twice on the issue.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), nearly a billion people today live without access to clean drinking water.
Speaking during the two-day International Conference on water closed yesterday in Kigali, Patrick Karera, Advisor to the Minister of Environment of Rwanda said that the country will ensure that all people have access to water such as drinking water, irrigation water, and water used in factories and in different services.
“We are considering how to link activities of different partners including the government, the private sector and different development partners to find solutions to water scarcity. One of solutions is to have decisions from this conference, and link activities and share common budgeting. There are various assessments including water management, soil erosion mapping, as the government we will use them to avail water to more citizens,” Karera said.
Karera said that the government is rehabilitating Sebeya catchment by making terraces that is among the solutions to tackle water scarcity. In partnership with Water for Growth project and the citizens, he said they are making the catchment of this river to help citizens access to water.
The government has many projects in Eastern province like tree plantation where a big part of the last fiscal year budget was allocated to forest restoration.
“There are so many projects we are looking for funds allocation like Muvumba multi-purpose dump to tackle water scarcity. We are encouraging people to have rain harvest materials in this regard,” Karera noted.
Daniel Gies, Chief of Party at USAID- Hingaweze project said that USAID will contribute to increased water for Agricultural production through pump investment to sustain water resources in Rwanda.
He commended the country’s efforts in investing in water infrastructures and transforming Agriculture production.
“For Hinga Weze, we are here as a USAID project to help farmers produce more and sell more, to use money and use the production to eat better and live better. This can be done through smart irrigation that support Agriculture activities and we hope to work with stakeholders and the government to make it a success,” Gies said.
He said that Hinga Weze in its working area supports terracing activities to prevent soil erosion that is also in line with environment protection. “We finance terracing activities, we finance government to prevent farmers from having disasters such us soil erosion and floods,” he noted.
Within the fourth Agriculture Transformation Strategy (PSTA4) from 2018 until 2024, the area covered with radical terraces is expected to increase from 110,041 ha to 142,500 ha while irrigated farms will increase from 48,508 ha to 102,284 ha by 2024.
Through a co-financing initiative with Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB), Hinga Weze helps farmers in Eastern Province to practice smart irrigation using solar power and pumps to irrigate 50 hectares in four districts namely: Ngoma, Kayonza, Bugesera and Gatsibo. The initiative targets more than 4,000 farmers in next three years.
The Feed the Future Rwanda Hinga Weze Activity is a five-year, $32.6 million USAID-funded project that aims to sustainably increase smallholder farmers’ income, improve the nutritional status of women and children, and increase the resilience of Rwanda’s agricultural and food systems to a changing climate.
Water engineers’ views
Aime Olivier Ishimwe, a 4th Year Student in Water and Environmental Engineering at University of Rwanda’s College of Science and Technology (UR/CST) said that sustainable water use and management requires everyone’s efforts.
“As Water and Environmental Engineers, our role is to help the community preserve water security and economy of the country,” Ishimwe said.
Joie Claire Amahoro, another student from same faculty in 4th year of Water and Environmental Engineering said their projects in helping the community tackle water scarcity will focus on home water treatment and rain water harvesting and conservation.
” We need to change the way we treat drinking water especially packaging in Environmental friendly bottles instead of plastics. There is a need of community campaigns to teach people on heater re-use in irrigation, cleaning and we need to do small projects on how to treat wasted water,”
Contact the author @philos4hakizi
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