An analysis by Rwanda Meteorology Agency has revealed that the change in rainfall has been caused by climate change. The analysis focused on comparing the rainfall performance of the September to December last year and January to February, 2022 rainy seasons against their long-term mean based on the 1991-2022 long term mean using rainfall data for 131 weather stations. “The trend analysis showed a reduction in rainfall for the September to December rainy season,” the report says. A flooded wetland at Masaka in Kicukiro District where hectares of crops were damaged in April 27. Photo: Courtesy. From January to February, the last three years (2020, 2021, 2022), received rainfall above the long-term mean of 1991-2022 according to the weatherman. During September-December rainy season last year, 53 stations indicated a significant increasing trend of dry spell from 1991 to 2022. A reduction in rainfall was observed over most parts of Northern province, mostly Western province especially over its southern parts and over Kigali city. The year 2021 was much driven by La Niña conditions which led to reduction of rainfall over most of the East Africa region. In Rwanda, La Niña conditions persisted up to December 2021. La Niña is a weather pattern that begins in the Pacific Ocean. La Niña impacts the global climate and disrupts normal weather patterns, which can lead to intense storms in some places and droughts in others. During the period of La Niña, last year, rainfall reduced over Rwanda especially for the main rainy season March to May and September to December. The January to February season for the year 2022, indicated an increased rainfall compared to its long-term mean (1991-2021) in most parts of the country according to the assessment report. The months of January to February which should normally be short dry periods which are favorable to post-harvest handling. The number of rainy days in Rwanda has declined by between 35 and 45 days per year due to climate change, scientists have said. Due to global warming, trend analysis for the period 1971-2016 showed a temperature increase of 1.4°C has been recorded since 1970. Rwanda’s average temperature is higher than the global average (1.09°C) shown by the UN-Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report. Effects The reduction of rainfall from September to December last year affected the country, especially farmers. As a result, the government distributed food relief to over 36,000 households comprising over 156,000 members that were affected by prolonged drought in Eastern Province. That time, Evariste Tugirinshuti, the president of Maize Farmers’ Cooperatives Federation in Eastern and Southern provinces said in an interview that the prolonged dry spell could cut maize produce by between 40 and 50 per cent. Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente, recently said that in the concluded agriculture season A (September to December), climate change slightly reduced maize and bean production especially in Eastern province. He said that Rwanda recently faced two types of climate change effects-drought and unusual rains. “The maize production could decrease by 0.6 per cent from 378,000 tonnes last year to 357,000 tonnes. Bean production is likely to decrease by 2 per cent in this province. However, we assure food security because not much was affected at national level,” he said. The increased rainfall in February and January affected post-harvest activities. Farmers across the country braced themselves for reduced yields and dwindling incomes following unusually heavy rains that upset postharvest activities. January and February were previously characterised by mild dry spells or little rains but due to climate change, the country faced heavy rainfall. The disruption in postharvest handling caused aflatoxin in grains according to farmers. Jean Nepomuscene Nsabimana, the President of Cooperative Twitezimbere from Musha sector in Rwamagana district the cooperative, which groups together 116 farmers, experienced maize yield drop to below 40 tonnes, down from 50 tonnes due to delayed harvesting caused by unusual rains. Farmers also told Doing Business that rains from March to May have changed compared to previous times. While, for some days, some areas faced heavy rains that caused havoc, farmers have said that they lacked rains when they were in need of it. The farmers’ woes could worsen at the time only four per cent of total arable is irrigated in the country. Government targets to irrigate 102,284 hectares by 2024 from the 63,000 hectares which are currently under irrigation.