The New Times (Kigali)

20 August 2014

Rwanda: New Irrigation Scheme to Fight Recurrent Hunger in Kayonza

Ndego Sector, in Kayonza District was initially inhabited by pastoralists who depended on cattle keeping as the only economic activity.

As such, residents remained vulnerable given their overdependence on cattle under adverse semi-dry climatic conditions.

According to residents, who spoke to The New Times on Monday, this community has suffered greatly under the pangs of prolonged drought spells.

John Mugisha said the situation compelled residents to adopt alternative economic activities or risk starvation.

"The scarcity of water forced many people to migrate to other areas. Those of us who remained turned to farming. But unfortunately, that alternative was not working either for the same reasons," Mugisha said, adding that they last received rainfall on April 15.

He said most residents resorted to working in neighbouring districts

However, a private company known as Brahimin has started an irrigation scheme set to cover over 441 hectares.

Modern irrigation machines have been installed and cereal crops like maize are already flourishing on some 192 hectares of land covered under the scheme.

Claude Ndahayo, another resident said residents have already started benefitting from the scheme.

"Over 200 people are fully employed on the scheme. This means they earn money to sustain their families," he said.

Ndahayo said some residents had started using the skills they acquire from the scheme, to irrigate their own farmlands.

"There is a way we tap water near our homes that we use to irrigate vegetables," Ndahayo said.

John Mugabo, the Mayor of the district said the project was key to food security in the district.

"We plan to roll out irrigation on a much bigger scale in this area. This a place endowed with four big lakes... it is ironical that people here can starve," he said.

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