analysisBy Bonny Mukombozi
Kigali — At first glance, Rwanda presents itself as a beautiful country, with green hills and red roads. Watching its wild life on RTV, one is convinced that we are endowed richly with rare and attractive species in their wild state, the birds, lions, giraffes; zebras in the national parks create an impression that we can let God do our work of protection and maintenance of the resource.
However, deeper analyses of the country's historic, current economic and social context present big challenges for the country and its population. This is besides the semi-arid environment which makes the peasants vulnerable to famine especially in areas of Bugesera and Umutara.
The biggest challenge is the country's population density and the low degree of urbanization. 90 per cent of Rwanda's population depends on agriculture. 60 per cent lives below the poverty line, the nation is poorly industrialized. About 50 per cent of the population can neither read nor write and the average life expectancy is about 49 years. The 1994 'business' still bears drastic consequences on social structures in the Rwandan society so that reconciliation still has a long way to go.
If concepts of prosperity and welfare are to be realized, it is necessary to add the aspects of sustainable use of our resources. It is observed that poor utilization of natural resources is the main reason for degradation of the people's livelihood. The space used for agriculture is generally the hillsides, and they are highly prone to erosion. The prolonged drought explains the famine problem.
The Programme for the Protection of Resources (PPR) by Rwanda-German Co-operation has to be applauded for its role in the support of public agriculture and forestry extension system. Direct support was provided to the population with a holistic package of technical assistance for appropriate and sustainable land use.
Claudio Lorman-Nsegiyunva, country director of DED-Rwanda said " the promotion of activities was always accompanied by training farmer to farmer exchange with the application of cash for work approach, partly using the labour intensive public works approach (HIMO) promoted by the Rwandan government. This has helped in the monetization of her rural population"
The areas of intervention of the programme included communal forestry and support to small-scale agriculture. The principle activities which must be naturally adopted are plant production, mainly in central-tree nurseries, decentralized and individual tree nurseries, forest rehabilitation and maintenance, rehabilitation of forest tracks and bridges support to FFC (Communal Forest Funds), support in the marketing of forest products, elaborate communal forest management plant.
To maintain land fertility, there is need to support the production of manure by the integration of small-animal husbandry and by the construction of compost heaps, introduction of various systems for improved fallow and promotion of production of farmyard manure.
To preserve land, we need to encourage the application of anti-erosion measures, promote practices which envisage an integral management of natural resources and the promotion of agro-sylvo-pastoral system.
As DED programmes have entailed, the rural population in the districts and the city should manage their natural resources (ground and vegetation) in an improved and sustainable manner.
The supply of the paid work at the district and city level should be increased through the implementation of programme activities and financial incentives.
Within the framework of maintaining and spreading information on natural resources conservation, the MINALOC, in conjunction with the Environment Protection and Agriculture Promotion in Rwanda"APEPARWA" should work to promote a good management of land and water while helping rural agricultural communities and decentralized structures (CRC)