Musanze is Rwanda’s most mountainous district harbouring the largest part of the Volcanoes National Park with five of the eight volcanoes of the Virunga chain (Karisimbi, Bisoke, Sabyinyo, Gahinga and Muhabura) within the district boundaries.
It is also in Musanze that most of Rwanda’s mountain gorillas are found, making it the most popular tourist destination in the country.
With a population of 398,986, Musanze district is divided into 15 sectors; Busogo, Cyuve, Gacaca, Gashaki, Gataraga, Kimonyi, Kinigi, Muhoza, Muko, Musanze, Nkotsi, Nyange, Remera, Rwaza and Shingiro.
According to Jean Damascene Habyarimana, the new district mayor, Musanze has the potential to develop economically and he together with the district staff and residents are working together to move the district from poor performance in last year’s performance contracts to among the first this financial year.
“We are aware that we emerged last in last year’s performance contracts because we failed to put people’s interests first and serve them well; I am ready to work on this,” the new mayor promises.
Different economic sectors have registered varying degrees of success that have come with improvement in people’s lives.
Agriculture is the lifeblood of the district. At least 91% of the population is engaged in agriculture. Musanze is considered as the country’s granary.
For many years, the District has focused on increasing productivity of agriculture by engaging in increasing the use of fertilizers, crop intensification programs, land consolidation and other crop prioritization which have all helped reduce extreme poverty and food insecurity among the citizens. Consolidated land for 4 prioritized crops has increased production in the last seven years.
Agricultural products for this region include some cash crops like coffee, tea, pyrethrum, wheat, bananas, beans, sorghum, and potatoes. There are two large factories located within the district; a pyrethrum factory in Musanze town and a wheat plant located on the outskirts of the Musanze township.
There has been an increase in the acreage for Irish potatoes grown in the district from 10,696.6 hectares in 2010 to 20,101 in 2016.
As for beans, the hectares increased from 14,434 and for wheat the figures grew from 1739 hectares to 2759 hectares on consolidated land.
Livestock is another important source of income and food for Musanze where 62.6% of all households raise some type of livestock.
In the last seven years the district received and distributed 2,767 cows, 1,045 pigs, 757sheep, 1,506 goats, 2,164 chicken and 3654 rabbits donated by different stakeholders--Central Government, NGOs, and some other private institutions.
From 2011 to 2012, the district distributed 479 cows from the Girinka program and by 2016 the number of citizens who had received cows had increased to 2,767.
However the number of population raising livestock in Musanze is still low, with a ratio of about 3% of the whole country.
Other than being the most mountainous district in Rwanda, the district is also home to Volcanoes National Park, home to the unique and world famous mountain gorillas which attract nearly a 30.000 tourists every year from all over the world.
It is also in this district that most of Rwanda’s mountain gorillas are found, making it the most popular tourist destination in the country. Musanze’s capital, Ruhengeri, is one of the largest cities in Rwanda and serves as a hub for tourists.
Lake Ruhondo is also located in Musanze.
Gorillas epitomize tourism development in Rwanda and provide potential for further increase in visitor numbers and tourism investments.
Industries and employment
The District is involved in the development of small scale industries, especially agro-related ones.
The vice Mayor in charge of Economic Affairs, Jerome Mugenzi, said the district is encouraging residents to join cooperatives and work together to produce enough materials necessary to feed the available industries.
Some of the industries include SOTIRU, wheat processing plant, and SOPYRWA, pyrethrum processing company, construction companies like Haki Construction and Zamura among others.
Members of Reba Kure, a 15-member cooperative in Musanze pooled Rwf35, 000 each and invested in buying and selling of produce. Today, the cooperative is an investment group worth millions of francs – having diversified into fabricating machines for small-scale industries.
Musanze District has installed 6.3km of public street lights on roads in Nyamagumba-Muhe Village, Regina Pacis-Muhe Village, APICUR-Kabeza, Kinigi, and Kibuye-Nyarubande villages.
The project of street lighting started in February 2013 and ended in June 2013 of the same year.
The government aims at providing biogas energy for cooking and lighting to all legible households with at least two cows, and cooking energy for the institutions among others prisons and schools which will help reduce biomass consumption.
In 2012, the district built 45 biogas stations and another 110 were built from 2013 to 2015 by FONERWA, NDBP/REG and the local residents in Musaze
Health and education
Musanze District is served by one hospital (RUHENGERI Hospital), 15 Health Centers, 1 Prison Dispensary, 6 Private Clinics, and 15 Health Posts.
The District Counts over 302 Nurses working in Hospital and Health Centers, 6 Specialists and 16 General Practitioners
It has an integrated District Plan to Eliminate Malnutrition, implemented since 2010. The current plan focuses on first 1000 days of life to tackle the stunting form of Malnutrition among Children (Stunting: 45.3% in DHS 2010 and 37.8% RDHS 2014/15).
In terms of HIV/AIDS, Musanze possesses moderate prevalence which is generally estimated between 5-10%.
Through the combined efforts of all stakeholders in the district (including citizens through their participation in the classroom construction for nine and twelve year-basic education), actions have been taken to ensure that appropriate, affordable and easily accessible education is availed to the population.
Literacy rate in the district is 65.6% among the population aged 15 and above.