3,000 Rwandan families face hunger due to drought

Numerous households in Eastern Province have been left stranded with little or no harvests.

Rwanda's Agriculture Minister Geraldine Mukeshimana. She says the government will provide needy families with food assistance. PHOTO | CYRIL NDEGEYA | NATION 

IN SUMMARY

  • Despite other parts of the country recording good harvests in season A this year, numerous households in Eastern Province have been left stranded with little or no harvests, putting them at a risk of hunger.
  • The Eastern Province is more prone to drought than other parts of the country.
  • Government officials said the affected areas were mainly those left out of a multimillion irrigation programme supported by the World Bank.

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Rwanda is making arrangements to deliver food assistance to support more than 3,000 families in the Eastern Province who need urgent assistance to combat the worst effects of a prolonged drought.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources’ (Minagri), despite other parts of the country recording good harvests in season A this year, which is currently ending, numerous households in Eastern Province have been left stranded with little or no harvests, putting them at a risk of hunger.

An ongoing assessment by Minagri has so far identified over 3,000 families in five sectors of Kayonza district, and over 2,500 families across seven cells in Kirehe district that are in need of food support due to a poor harvest.

The assessment has also identified five sectors in Nyagatare district, where farmers will not harvest at all, and therefore need immediate food support. The Eastern Province is more prone to drought than other parts of the country.

Food supplies

Government officials said the affected areas were mainly those left out of a multimillion irrigation programme supported by the World Bank, which saw different parts of Eastern Province previously prone to drought transform into food baskets.

“We are finalising the mapping of those areas that will require food supplies to avert a possible food shortage,” said Jean Claude Murenzi, the Mayor of Kayonza district.

Over the past five years, parts of Eastern Province have faced a shortage of rainfall, putting thousands of households at risk of hunger.

Minister of agriculture and animal resources Geraldine Mukeshimana said the ministry is working closely with local government authorities to ensure food supplies get to needy families on time.

“Even though we are still waiting for the harvest season to end, we already have 14,000MT of supplies in storage, which we can rely on to support families in Nyagatare district. We also have other storage facilities across the country,” said Ms Mukeshimana.

The mapped areas that require food intervention are Ndego, Murama, Kabarondo, Mwiri, Kabare and Rwinkwavu sectors of Kayonza and Nyarubuye, Kigano, Nasho, Mpanga, Nyamugari and cells in Kirehe districts.

The ministry said agricultural production has dramatically increased in other parts of the country, which means food supplies will be mobilised internally.

The rise in output is attributed to more cultivated land across the country and scaling up of agro-inputs.

Figures from Minagri show that this season 585,400MT of beans are expected from 354,900ha; 66,014MT of rice from 13,728ha; while cassava production will reach 703,909MT cultivated on 44,128ha.

Despite the armyworm invasion last year, maize production is also expected to do well with production set at 775,000MT from 258,139ha.

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