The process to construct Muvumba multipurpose dam in Nyagatare District has kicked off with expropriation activities expected to be complete by the end of this year, according to Francois Tetero, the Head of Water Resources Management Department at Rwanda Water and Forestry Authority.
The Rwf100 billion project is expected to increase the supply of pipped water in Eastern Province, reduce power shortages and bolster food output by providing water for irrigation.
It will come as relief for farmers and other residents of the province who each year contend with harsh weather conditions characterised by prolonged drought.
"The project will construct a dam of 30.5m high and will have capacity to reserve 35 million cubic meter of water for irrigation, drinking water and small hydropower. This year will end by having expropriated people who have properties in the area and sources of the water to flow into the dam," he said.
It will be constructed on 498 hectares, according to the feasibility study.
"After the expropriation by the end of this year, we will be able to set up a timeframe for completion of the construction works," he said.
The project will also protect erosion around the dam by applying terraces, planting trees, agro-forestry trees and other anti-erosion techniques.
Tetero said residents from Karangazi, Rwimiyaga and Nyagatare sectors will access to piped domestic water from the dam.
In addition to supplying water for irrigating 7,380 hectares of farmland, the dam is expected to supply water for 16 reservoirs including the eight existing valley dams and eight new ones for livestock.
It is also projected to produce at least 5719 MWH annually.
Claudian Mushabe, the Mayor of Nyagatare District said that the dam will provide support to the district farmers who are affected by drought most of the time.
"We have sectors that suffer because they lack irrigation schemes. So many livestock farmers have been losing their cows due to lack of water while some of the households still do not have access to clean water. Having more dams is the solutions to those who lack food due to drought," he said.
Eastern Province has been hit by drought for many years.
For instance, in the 2015/2016 fiscal year drought affected 47,306 families as 23,448 hectares of crops were destroyed while 1,750 cows in died in Nyagatare, Gatsibo, Kayonza, Kirehe and Ngoma districts
Last year, the national irrigation targets were revised due to the high costs associated with constructing irrigation schemes.