Unlike other parts of the country that are experiencing rainfall from September to December 2021 season, citizens of Ndego Sector of Kayonza district are yet to witness the rainfall and it seems like they are in dry season.
Once you reach Ndego Sector, what you could see is a clear sky and there is no sign that it rained some few days ago. Big plots of land remained uncultivated and the beans planted which are yet to grow have started dying up. Cattles were hardly grazing and you could see no water. However, moving on, in Kabare sector, which is not very far in distance to Ndego Sector, you find some good crops and green villages.
Rwanda Meteorology Agency jointly with Rwanda Agriculture and Animal Resources Development Board are implementing the Kayonza Irrigation and Integrated Watershed Management Project (KIIWP) that was funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). The project seeks to contribute to poverty reduction in the drought prone areas of Eastern Province of Rwanda. Its development objective is to improve food security and incomes of rural households on a sustainable basis and build their climate resilience.
Under KIIWP Project, Meteo Rwanda will conduct a series of activities including:
- Production of downscaled seasonal and sub seasonal weather forecast at 8 sectors level of Kayonza District, namely Gahini, Kabare, Kabarando, Murama, Murundi, Mwiri, Ndego and Rwinkwavu;
- Roll out capacity building programme on climate risk and risk management by using Participatory Integrated Climate Services for Agriculture (PICSA) methodology;
- Conduct multi-stakeholder workshops on seasonal and sub seasonal forecasts in order to assist small scale farmers in understanding weather information, climate risk management and seasonal planning;
- Production of historical climate and weather information that are site specific by considering the variability in micro-climate within 8 drought prone sectors mentioned above; and
- Preparation, Dissemination of daily weather forecast and early warning messages that are appropriate and specific to the project area through SMS and collect feedback.
During the need assessment group discussions that Meteo Rwanda conducted in Kayonza District from 3rd to 5th November 2021, the citizens requested Meteo Rwanda to downscale the seasonal forecast at microclimate level because of the characteristics of Kayonza District. Normally, Meteo Rwanda provides the weather forecast at district level.
“There is one part near the tarmacked road near Rwamagana where it has been raining and another belt located in the former Akagera National Park where it did not rain at all. This belt comes from Nyagatare pockets. Recently, the Minister of Agriculture accompanied by the Governor of Eastern Province visited Murundi Sector in Mucucu whereby there was rainfall deficit and there is a high chance that residents of this area will have shortage of food or simply drought” wondered Dr. Patrick Nkuriyingoma.
“It's high time Meteo Rwanda starts considering the weather forecast at small scale like at the micro-climate zones or probably administrative sectors because as for what it has been giving us, the district is big especially Kayonza” added Dr. Patrick.
Pascal Ahiroreye, said that the big losses they incur result from the big investments they put in agriculture but with poor harvest.
“We invest in agriculture like buying fertilizers and seeds but at the end of day we harvest nothing. The part of Kayonza bordering Rwamagana receives good rainfall but for us it is another story,” said Pascal.
Mr. Aimable Gahigi, the Director General of Rwanda Meteorology Agency assured the citizens that Meteo Rwanda will look at how it can map out these areas that have been over time experiencing poor or no rainfall and be considering them while issuing the weather forecast. He however noted that a long term solution is needed through collaboration of different government institutions and other partners to ensure something is done in Ndego sector and other sectors of similar concerns.
Through KIIWP Project, farmers will be trained on how they can use the information of weather and climate expected in a particular season and plan appropriate crops that can survive the expected weather conditions.