Upcountry Insight: Lake Sake road changes people’s lives

EASTERN PROVINCE NGOMA — Lake Sake is one of the 27 Lakes in Rwanda, 23 of which are in the Eastern province. It is one of the two Lakes found in Ngoma district the other one being Lake Mugesera.

EASTERN PROVINCE

NGOMA — Lake Sake is one of the 27 Lakes in Rwanda, 23 of which are in the Eastern province. It is one of the two Lakes found in Ngoma district the other one being Lake Mugesera.

Found in Sake sector, Lake Sake was one of the Lakes which were affected by farmers; who failed to respect the regulation barring human activities within a radius of 15m.

The district Mayor Francois Niyotwagira once warned that the lake would dry up due to human activity which led to washing of external materials into the water. Even the water colour had changed to brown due to soil erosion.

There was a need therefore to protect it as well as protecting the environment. Thus in 2006, the construction of a road along this Lake started as part of this campaign.

The road was constructed manually without application of any machinery. Human labour therefore replaced machines which became a source of employment to many people of Sake; who were given the first priority.

Of the 900 residents who were employed, half of them were vulnerable and demobilized soldiers.

Last week a 21km road which is the first phase of the road was commissioned by the minister for Natural Resources Stanislas Kamanzi before launching the second phase that is yet to start.

It was financed by a German aid agency through Community Based Reintegration (CBR) and Rwanda Demobilisation and Reintegration Commission at a cost of about Frw188 million.

Apart from stopping people from encroaching on the Lake and offering employment to residents, the road is seen as a boost to tourism in the district. It is also seen as a centre of unity and reconciliation since residents and ex-soldiers worked together and sow themselves as one people.

The road has eased the transport in Sake and other surrounding areas. All people who were working on this road grouped and started a cooperative society as a development strategy to eradicate poverty in their midst.

Dafroza Kankindi, one of the women who were employed in the construction says apart from setting up a small income generating activity (shop), she has managed to pay school fees for her six children. "Am currently not counted among the vulnerable because at least I can meet all the necessities," Kankindi said.

Alphonse Tuyigire, another resident says he learnt building skills from those he was working with while constructing bridges and water trenches. He says he can now look for the same jobs else where and apply the acquired skills.

"I used to ask myself what I would do since I did not have a chance to go to school. But now I have learnt that there can be an alternative like this. I now see this as an answer to all my dreams because I can now look after my young ones." Tuyigire said.

"I used to spend a week without even getting Frw500 in my pockets. But I can not believe that I have been earning Frw1000 daily from this job. I still see it as a dream though it’s a reality," a 49-year-old mother of seven Fridah Uwimana said.

"If they can cooperate and buy machines to be used in roads for rent they can say bye to poverty forever. All of them have learnt how to save in banks and this is the genesis of development. Rwandans are born heroes and nowhere should they lag behind. They should therefore lead the way." Jean Sayinzoga the president of Rwanda Demobilisation and Reintegration Commission said at the commissioning of the first phase of the road.

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