The Rwanda Meteorological Agency’s latest forecasts suggest that five districts will witness drought as the rains will stop between May 10 and 20 while other parts of the country will get enhanced rainfall up to mid-June.
The districts to be affected are Kirehe, Gisagara, Ngoma, Bugesera and Rusizi.
“While the rainfall is expected to start on February 25, 2019 in general across the country, in some areas it is expected to delay until March 10.Where rainfall is expected to start late, it is also expected to stop earlier, between May 10 and 20,” said Aimable Gahigi, Director General of the agency.
Heavy rain at Rwandex last year. Emmanuel Kwizera
The official said some districts will only have rainfall for about 70 days which calls for adaptation measures in the agriculture sector.
The highest rainfall is expected in most parts of Western and Northern provinces, Kigali City and in Ruhango, Kamonyi, Manga and Nyamagabe districts in Southern Province. Other areas will have normal rainfall.
He also warned that heavy rainfall in some districts might cause disasters such as floods, landslides, water borne diseases, destruction of houses, loss of life and other properties if there are no adaptation measures
Normal rainfall is in the range of 390 and 510 millimetres, he explained.
“Relevant authorities with activities that depend on rainfall and other vulnerable institutions should put in place both preventive and mitigating strategies to minimise loss of life and property. However, this outlook is supplemented by daily updates of different timescales for 24 hours, three days, five days, 10 days and monthly basis,” he said.
He added that an early warning system is still being properly developed so that climate information reaches each individual at the grassroots level.
Commenting on the forecast, Rwanda Agriculture Board has pledged to provide drought resistant seeds to farmers in the districts to be affected.
“We have a team of researchers who work on producing seeds that are resistant to drought as well as short-term maturing crops. We are going to tell farmers what they have to plant depending on the amount of rainfall they are expecting this season,” said Dr Charles Bucagu, the deputy director general in charge of Agriculture Research and Technology Transfer at RAB.
He said that farmers can plant fast maturing crops such as beans and other maize varieties developed by researchers as well as cassava crops that resist drought among many others.
Bucagu added that farmers are also being encouraged join cooperatives and have consolidated land so that they get subsidised irrigation equipment.