Rice farmers count losses as disasters damage over 11,000 hectares of crops

The heavy rains experienced between October and December 2019 left a section of farmers counting losses.

Gisagara District in Southern Province experienced heavy rains and flooding that eroded rice crops in the valley between Mamba and Gikonko sectors.

Farmers told Business Times that the flooding resulted from increased rainfall upstream.

“There were no predictable signs of oncoming flooding in this valley. The floods have destroyed our rice fields. We are now left with no source of income in the coming days,” said Jean Claude Rugerinyange, the representative of a farmers’ cooperative UCORIBU.

He said that more than 1,600 people, who were using this swamp as a source of income are hopeless now.

“We are a cooperative living on rice farming. We were expecting more than 600 tonnes of rice, and now they were all flooded,” he lamented.

At least 360 hectares of rice were destroyed in Nyiramageni swamps in Gisagara District following heavy rains which also hit different sectors of the neighbouring districts.

Current production of rice per hectare is   average of 5 tonnes per hectare and this means the cooperative lost nearly 1,800 tonnes.

Claudine Mukasine, a 34 year –old  mother of two, who was  affected by the heavy rains that hit Nasho Sector of Kirehe District in Eastern Province, recounts her ordeal.

“The roof of my house was blown away by the wind in the middle of the night when we were all sleeping during a heavy downpour. Then it started raining on us. We could not even move from one side to another as the whole roof had been blown away,” she narrated.

According to Jean Claude Twishime, the Communication and Public Relations Officer at the Ministry in charge of Emergency Management in 2019, 134 people died, while 5691 houses were damaged.

At least 10, 610 hectares of crops, he said, were damaged, while 113 livestock died.

Over 3,900 hectares were damaged in October, November and December of 2019, while 5,274 hectares were damaged in March and 722 hectare in January of 2019.

The destruction was caused by hailstorms, fires, floods, landslides, rainstorms and windstorms.

A report shows that 203 classrooms, 30 roads, one health centre, 50 churches, 40 bridges, 21 administrative offices, 4 markets, 2 factories, 21 water supply systems and 72 power transmission lines were also destroyed.

Kirehe District was the most affected in terms of agricultural losses as 6329 hectares were affected followed by Gisagara where 1,040 hectares were damaged while 494 hectares,  and 346 hectares were damaged in Rusizi and Ruhango  districts respectively.

Humanitarian intervention

Mukasine, whose house had collapsed due to downpour and other farmers are among victims, who have got humanitarian aid from Rwanda Red Cross.

“Now that I have received the aid, I am going to buy iron sheets, and use the rest to pay for my family’s health insurance. I have gained ability to cater for my immediate needs,” she said.

Florence Umulisa, the Head of Emergency Response at Red Cross, said that Rwanda Red Cross’ community-based volunteers, the local authorities and security organs visited the affected communities and assessed the situation in Gisagara, Kirehe, Gakenke, Ngoma, Nyanza, Bugesera, Gasabo, Nyarugenge and Ngororero districts.

The team found that 3, 901 hectares of crops and 1, 595 houses had been damaged.

Umulisa said that they have started to implement a new approach dubbed, “Cash-Based Intervention” in responding to disasters.

This means, she said, they provide cash to people affected by disasters instead of providing them with materials.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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