Cattle farmers to benefit from solar-powered boreholes

Cows drink water from a trough supplied with water by a solar-powered borehole in Eastern Province. Access to clean water is expected to increase milk production especially in the dry season. / Courtesy

Cattle in Nyagatare and Kayonza districts will no longer face water shortages and death induced by drought thanks to new boreholes run by solar energy.

The development will enable more than 10,000 heads of cattle access to clean water, especially in the dry season, according to the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD).  


Eastern Province was in 2017 affected by a severe drought which resulted in the deaths of 2,417 cows in the districts of Kayonza, Nyagatare, Gatsibo, Ngoma, and Kirehe, according to information from the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources.


The water facilities are being built by Rwanda Dairy Development Project (RDDP), which is run by IFAD and the Government of Rwanda.  


Overall, 19 boreholes will be constructed under the project – 12 in Nyagatare, and seven in Kayonza according to Michel Ngarambe, Farmers’ Organization Specialist at RDDP under the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources.

He added that the construction of all the boreholes was expected to be completed this December.

François Xavier Uwitonze, RDDP Civil Engineer said that the budget for their construction is estimated at Rwf500 million.

“As the boreholes use solar energy to pump water for consumption by cows and people around its site, they are economically beneficial than those that need generators to operate,” Ngarambe said.

“Shortage of water for livestock is the main problem affecting farmers in Nyagatare and Kayonza District. The region has two rivers only – Umuvumba and Akagera – and valley dams which dry up during drought. This project will help alleviate the problem,” he said. 

One borehole, Uwitonze said, can generate 34.6 cubic meters of water per day enough for consumption by 1,000 cows, adding that 600 people living in its surroundings can also get water from it.

He said that five boreholes are already functional, adding that the project was designed in a way that there will be a trough and water tank beside the borehole. 

A solar panel powers a pump to push up underground water into a tank. The water is then channeled into a trough from which cows drink.

Gahiga Gashumba, Chairperson of Nyagatare Dairy Farmers’ Union said that cows used to travel long distance in search of water during drought.

“Solar-powered boreholes have contributed in addressing the major challenge of water shortage during drought,” he said.

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