Over 15,000 residents in Rwanda Eastern Province whose crop harvests were affected by lack of adequate rains in past season are receiving food rations since December, 2017.
The residents are from Nyamugali, Kigarama and Kigina sectors in Kirehe District and Rwinkwavu and Ndego sectors in Kayonza District.
Up to 2910 households made up of 11,534 people in the three sectors of Kirehe and 1100 households made up of 4405 people in the two sectors of Kayonza have been receiving 2.5 kilogrammes of maize and 1.5 kilogrammes of beans (an individual) weekly since last month to supplement their diminishing food reserves.
But the district mayors say there is hope that the affected households will be able to feed themselves following some intensive irrigation backups from Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB) and recent rains.
However, they said the districts will continue to offer food rations to any households that remain unable to feed themselves.
“Some families have showed hope of recovery from food insecurity since December. Various families have started harvesting, especially beans and can be able to support themselves,” Kirehe District mayor Gerald Muzungu said.
But Muzungu added that they would “continue the food ration programme to families that may not be able to support themselves until they’re able to.”
Some residents, especially in Nyamugali in Kirehe and Rwinkwavu in Kayonza say they may need the food support until February.
One of the beneficiaries in Nyamugali Sector, Jean de Dieu Ngamije, said they don’t expect any harvest until February when they will be harvesting maize.
“All of us in Nyamugali were equally affected but RAB’s irrigation benefited those who had cultivated on the hillsides and they have even begun harvesting beans,” said Ngamije.
He added that those whose fields are far from water sources were helped by rains in December and are only waiting to harvest maize in early February.
Jean Claude Murenzi, the Mayor of Kayonza District says the two affected sectors in his district are hopeful for a harvest this season.
“The food rations came as a result of dwindling rains which affected residents’ harvest,” he said.
After this month, according to Murenzi a new survey will be made to find out those who still be in need of food support.
The mayor also called upon residents of Kayonza to avoid selling crops cheaply before they are even harvested.
According to RAB’s head of Eastern agricultural zone Nobert Sendege, they now expect a bumper harvest this season although some areas did not receive enough rains.
The Ministry of Agriculture says there is no other place in the country that was affected at the same scale, as to require food assistance.
Ange Soubirous Tambineza, the ministry’s programme manager for agriculture information and communication, told The New Times that “The affected areas are just small dots in the whole country but, as a ministry, it’s our responsibility to feed Rwandans and the national granaries are full.”
She added that the ministry is working with local government authorities to identify and solve any challenges.
“Nyagatare District also received scanty rains in a few cells this season but irrigation efforts are in place,” she said.