By Michel Nkurunziza
The ministry of agriculture and animal resources (MINAGRI) has said the current drought in Rwanda is a global issue and over 50 million people are facing the same disaster in Africa.
Severe drought hit Nyagatare, Gatsibo, Kayonza, Kirehe and Ngoma districts in the Eastern Province. Over 23,448 hectares of crops were destroyed and lives of cattle lost. 47,306 families are affected by famine.
Addressing the press today, Minister Geraldine Mukeshimana said the country is facing the worst drought in 60 years.
“The drought extended into 2016 B season from season A last year. This was in seven sectors in Kayonza, four in Nyagatare and one in Kirehe District,” she said, adding that even seeds that were planted in Kayonza immediately.
Mukeshimana explained that the ministry is supplying food to 18, 308 needy households.
“The strategic reserve remains with only little food and we have set aside Rwf2.9bn to replenish it. A storage campaign should be carried out from cell to provincial level,” she said.
The minister added that even dams have dried up. Of five dams dug in Kayonza and six in Nyagatare, only one is operational because rain immediately disappeared. Others dried due to mismanagement by farmers.
“There must be other nearby containers for cows to use instead of directly drinking from dams which affect them… 28 dam sheets were installed in Nyagatare and Kayonza, water carrier vehicles were used to fetch water for cattle, a trench from Akagera River to Karangazi and another one from Rwinkwavu water dam to Gahini and Murundi watering points were excavated. Those livestock interventions permitted to save life of 22,000 cattle in the area”, she said.
Also, 95 dam sheets and 107 pump dams for small scale irrigation were distributed.
Innocent Musabyimana, MINAGRI’s permanent secretary, says sustainable solutions to cope with drought are ongoing.
“Only 7,000 hectares of flat land was under irrigation nine years ago. That has now increased to over 40,000 while there are 5,000 irrigated on the hillside. That is expensive because one hectare on a hillside requires Rwf13m,” he said.
Another project will cover 1,200 hectares on hillside by using Lake Nasho while over 5,000 others will be supported by an Indian bank using Akagera River.
According to the irrigation master plan, 3,000 hectares are irrigated every year. MINAGRI says irrigation still lacks enough support from the private sector.