Burera District: On course in boosting production, people’s welfare and development

Burera district is in the Northern Province of Rwanda, neighboring to the Ugandan border in north-east, Gakenke and Rulindo district in the south and Musanze district in the west. It is home to Lakes Burera and Ruhondo, and the Virunga Lodge Hotel, with spectacular views of the lakes and nearby Virunga Mountains, making it one of Rwanda’s tourist spots. The district also harbours Cyanika border post, gateway to southwestern Uganda.

Burera district is  in the Northern Province of Rwanda, neighboring to the Ugandan border in north-east, Gakenke and Rulindo district in the south and Musanze district in the west. It is home to Lakes Burera and Ruhondo, and the Virunga Lodge Hotel, with spectacular views of the lakes and nearby Virunga Mountains, making it one of Rwanda’s tourist spots. The district also harbours  Cyanika border post, gateway to  southwestern Uganda.

The  economic development of the district relies on agriculture and  tourism as well as other commercial district works. .

Burera district is divided into 17 sectors; Bungwe, Butaro, Cyanika, Cyeru, Gahunga, Gatebe, Gitovu, Kagogo, Kinoni, Kinyababa, Kivuye, Nemba, Rugarama,Rugendabari, Ruhunde, Rusarabuye and Rwerere.

From 2011 to 2015 the report of the district committee shows that tangible development was attained  in different sectors of lives and social welfare of the population.

In the last five years, access to electricity was  improved from 7.3% to  19.2% whereas access to clean water rose  from 59.04% to 90.2%.

The 2010 Integrated Households Living Conditions surveys in Rwanda (EICV) shows  that people who were below the  poverty line in  Burera district was  57.1% in EICV1 but dropped to 50.4% in EICV4; whereas the rate of people who were under extreme poverty reduced from  30.1% in EICV1  to 23% in EICV4.

When you look at last performance contracts evaluation of 2014-2015 in Burera district, the economic development is well covered at 85.5%, access to social services stands at  79.5% and good governance and justice was well covered at 59.5% which  enabled the district to take the 4th position in the country’s districts performance contracts.

Economic development

Agriculture

Most Rwandans practice agriculture, which, as well, is the same with Burera district where it is practiced by more than 80.2% of the total population of the district, with Irish potatoes, wheat, maize and beans being most grown crops in the region.

In line with government policy of the crop intensification program,  Burera district is embracing technology with traditional practices giving way to modern ones;  has introduced irrigation and provided an intervention that has brought them the 3rd agricultural season.

Irrigation is mostly applied into marshlands, where people cultivate Irish in the dry  season which enables  them to use grow crops all the year round. .

In a bid to increase productivity from favorable land crops, the district last year targeted to cultivate Irish potatoes on surface of 21,000ha, wheat on 13,000ha, maize on 15,000ha and on 23,980ha. More than 98% of the targets were  well attained.

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Farms of wheat

In a move to increase land productivity per hectare, the district had targeted to harvest 29.5tonnes of Irish  per hectare, three tonnes of wheat per hectare, 5.5tonnes of maize per hectare and three tonnes per hectare for beans; a target that they accomplished at more than hundred percent.

The district also targeted to use small scale irrigation on eleven hectares, a  target that was achieved to 103.2 %,  creating radical terraces on the surface of 242hectares in the whole district  was achieved to more than 105%.

Officials say that  productivity improvements in agriculture were preceded with preparing farmers to enable them  embrace government policies such Twigire Muhinzi Programme, land use consolidation and land intensification, good seeds preparation and fertilizers application, working in cooperatives and small groups.

They say that the above mentioned achievements were targeted in the district’s action budget, but populations also practice other particular personal activities like terracing their farms and irrigation which also helps to improve their wellbeing.

As the district on  high altitude , they practice radical terracing for crosscutting role, where they use them to improve production and environment preservation and protection. In this regard they have terraced radicals on the mountains around Burera Lake and Ruhondo benches.

By promoting animal husbandry in the district, farmers  practice artificial insemination programme with  more than 3000 cows, and vaccinated more than 16000 cows in last fiscal year.

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Machines that farmers use in irrigation

The district has supported small and medium enterprises with start-ups through BDF Kora Wigire Centers to access  finance  through guarantee and grants in all sectors of the district.

Under the promotion of this sector, 42 smalland medium enterprises were supported.Provision of Start-up toolkits to the apprentices and short-term vocational training graduates for self-employment  enabled 81 graduates to benefit from the program.

The district is working to complete the Burera workforce center (Agakiriro) located at Rugarama with  construction activities complete at  95% and is expected to start operating in upcoming days.

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Irrigation is useful during the dry season. 

Tourism

In a bid to promote tourism sector, the district has planned different projects that will help to run the sector among which are development of  a tourism master plan. They have introduced a long term  project to invite private investors  in tourism and strengthen the  public private partnership projects.

In promoting tourism, the Burera district has completed the construction of Burera Beach Resort hotel that will help the district to provide accommodation and other hospitality services.

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Cyanika cross-border market that is under construction

Burera district has access to the Muhavura volcano, it has two lakes namely Burera and Ruhondo, it has Rugezi marshland and has different historical sites like Rukara rwa  Bishingwe and Basebya ba Nyirantwari. The district has prepared 13 plots for building hotels and guests houses in Kagogo, Rusarabuye, Kinoni and Gatovu sectors that are close to the Burera and Ruhondo lakes, Urugezi marshland and Munanira and Bushongo islands  in Burera lake. 

After the Rwanda housing authority’s master plan study, they found that there are 65 plots that can be used to construct camping sites in Kinyababa, Kagogo, Gatovu, Kinoni and Rusarabuye sectors, and other 45 plots in Bukamba touristic zone that can be used for tourism activities.

Based on these touristic opportunities, the district thinks that investors can come to build hotels, guests houses, camping sites and prepare and promote history based tourism.

The district has earned a total of Rwf34,206,701 in 2014-2015 and rwf37,627,071 in 2015-2016 from volcanoes national park. Incomes were used to promote public projects of sectors close to the park as Gahunga, Rugarama and Cyanika.

Although much has  been done to advance tourism sector, the district is still facing some challenges as investment in the is still low , there are many tourism sites that are not well prepared and lack of well polished hospitality skills . Other challenges include insufficient infrastructures like electricity, tarmac road, garages, petrol stations, taxi park and poor transportation among others.

Infrastructures

Markets and roads

The Cyanika cross boarder market is under  construction  along the Rwanda-Uganda border post which  started in February 2016 and will be completed at a  cost of Rwf1.3 billion,  under the joint financing of the Ministry for Trade and Industry, Burera District and the World Trade Organisation, through the Enhanced Integrated Framework.

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Some infrastructures of Burera district.

Cyanika  market  will have warehouses, shops, open market, parking for trucks, restaurants and other facilities and  will help to create new jobs for the Rwandan youth. 

Electricity and energy

As the country targets to connect 70 per cent of households with electricity, (48 per cent on grid and 22 per cent off grid) by 2017/18 financial year, Burera district has so far connected 22.8 percent of its households of accessibility to the electricity.

 In 2015 the district  connected more than one thousand households to electric power.

The District is facing different challenges as some of houses that are built are susceptible to landslides  and the terrain that is hilly makes electricity connections difficult. , 63% of population were located in agglomerated settlements (District report of 2013).

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Biogaz

In the last fiscal year, the district in partnership with population have built 135 biogas digesters and they plan to increase the numbers a move that is paramount in reducing fuel expenses  and environment preservation.

Water and sanitation

83.2% of the population in Burera district have access to clean water, and the district is planning to increase water accessibility with  two water stations to be extended at  Nyabizi channel that will be extended by the district in cooperation with Water and Sanitation Corporation (WASAC LTD), and will serve Kabona Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) School and The University of Global Health Equity (UGHE) that is being constructed in Burera district and continue to the Kivuye sector.

The president has  pledged  62km of water pipeline to expand access  in Ruhunde- Bitanga commercial center and Nemba sector at a cost of  about Rwf 2 billion. The district believes that when these projects are completed,  access to clean water will rise by 5% in the district.

Roads

Burera is a district that has a scarcity of modern roads with  a small area that has tarmac roads passing through four sectors at the Cyanika border  in sectors; Gahunga, Rugarama and Cyanika.

Although the availability of modern roads in Burera  is still a challenge, plans are under to embark on the construction of  a 63km tarmac road  Base-Butaro-district office and Kidaho to Cyanika border. 

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Feeder roads that were constructed.

The district has better feeder roads that facilitate   commerce between residents despite disasters and landslidesthat sometimes challenge them.

Every year the district plans to construct different feeder roads. In the last financial year, they had targeted to rehabilitate 37kilometers of feeder roads, of which 20km for Rusumo-Nyamicu-Gashanje-Kabere and 17km for Kidaho-Nyagahinga-Gahunga.

The district’s performance contracts evaluation indicates that 20km have already completed 100% and 17km are under progress. 

Good governance and justice

Burera has developed different strategies that will help the district in resolving community conflicts. Every Wednesday local leaders at village and cell levels discuss issues that affect people’s lives and take action to address them.  

Pelagie Ayinkamiye, the director of good governance in Burera district said that they  decided to use every Wednesday to cover the gaps that may have arisen as a result of  grassroots leaders mis-handling  of public affairs.

Although we can’t say that we have completely achieved to the farthest point of good governance, we can assure that we  are now contented with good services delivered to the people” she said.

There is a toll-free  telephone number 4139 that people can use to report any issue that needs to be addressed by the local government and others relating to security and welfare.

In 28 trading  centers around the district, they have put  ‘suggestion boxes’ that people can use to report their problems and to advice the district.

The district has presented citizens charter or services delivery  guidelines  in all sectors and cells, which was elaborated among the populace and so  aware of their rights to get free services.

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Burera workforce center

In all sectors of the district, there are  services registry books that help the district in evaluation of good governance at  all levels.

Good governance in the district can be measured with the participation of population in elections. A report on last local leaders’ elections indicates that 97.3% of population participated in electing leaders of their choice.

Advancement of the good governance in the district is also characterized with people’s participation in the community work (umuganda), and leaders still mobilize citizens to inclusively take the exercise as habit.

In handling court cases,  of about 261 that courts were ruled, 154 were well executed.

The district uses mediators to end disputes between communities Citizens forums that take place at cell level  help in  addressing problems  affecting them.

In 2015,  the district handled  1,120 community conflicts.

To ensure sustainable  good governance , the district carries out regular  capacity building of staff for  effective delivery of services.

Burera district staff have  also introduced social media in their daily operations to communicate between themselves and the public through a  ‘user group’ of all leaders from the district to the village and school head teachers to share information between themselves.

All the 17 sectors and 69 cells  have office premises.

Even though much has  been done to ensure good governance, the district is still challenged with citizens’ ignorance, and illicit drugs abuse is rampant much of which is brought in  from Uganda.

Health

The district has one hospital; Butaro District Hospital,  that serves beyond Rwanda with specialty  cancer treatment services to be expanded in the next financial year.

The  construction of University of Global Health Equity began  last May in the district.

In each sector of Burera district there is a health center. Last year the district  rehabilitated four health centers namely; Nyamugali, Mucaca, Kinyababa and Gitare;  33 Health Posts were built and four were rehabilitated with two to be rehabilitated in the next financial year.

The district says that it is a big achievement  to have 19 Health Centers and 39 Health Posts and believes that all people will have access to medication. In 2016-2017 financial budget, the district plans to construct 18 health posts, engage qualified health workers and  buy enough medical equipment.

By the end of 2015, the rate of medical  insurance stood at  89%, a rate that the district plans to improve. In line with promoting welfare of the population, the district has introduced ‘house to house visit program’ twice a year  to verify levels of nutrition, school enrolment and sanitation  and hygiene.

Family planning in the district is at 47% and  plans  to carry out a research that would help to promote it has been organised.

Education

In promoting education,  Burera district that had no varsity institution will in few years get the University of Global Health Equity that is being set up through cooperation between the Government of Rwanda, Harvard University and Partners In Health. The university will be constructed in Butaro sector.

Burera every year constructs classroom for 12-year basic education in all sectors to improve  literacy in the district. For that purpose last year they constructed 30classrooms, 60 latrines and 9 libraries.

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Classrooms that were constructed

The district  last year also completed the extension works of KABONA Vocational Training Center in Rusarabuye sector by constructing teachers’ hostels, playing grounds and cafeteria.

Last year, they targeted to reduce the dropout to 11.5% in primary and 13.6% in secondary schools; they performed the target to extent which they remain 1.1% in primary and 1.87% in secondary, numbers that they think will be returned to school soon.

The district is also targeting to increase adult literacy. Last year the district supported literacy of 6,494 adults in all sectors to read and write and targeting 6, 834 in 2016.

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Students who graduated in VTC were supported with tool kits

Francois Kazimbaya, the Planning Monitoring and Evaluation officer in Burera district recommends the development of the district and call upon residents to work hard for better future perspectives. 

“We call and always call population to work mutually, learning and supporting one another; this is a device that will shape sustainable development in our district and draw it to our descents” Kazimbaya said, adding that the government and private investors would help them promoting modern agriculture, tourism and ICT and technical schools.

Florence Uwambajemariya, the mayor of Burera district recommends the development of the district and call upon residents to work hard for future economic self-reliance.  

Based on different projects in the district that aim at running key economic pillars in the district, and past achievements; mayor believes that no faraway place they can’t reach.  

“We call and always call people to work mutually, learning and supporting one another; this is a device that will shape sustainable development in our district and shape it to our successions” Uwambajemariya said, adding that the government and private investors would help them promoting modern agriculture, tourism, ICT and technical schools.

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