Livestockfarmers in Nyagatare District have got a timely shot in the arm following the launch of a piped water project last week.
The project, developed under the water and sanitation (WATSAN) programme, is a joint venture between the district and the Water and Sanitation Corporation (WASAC) aimed at increasing access to safe water in the drought prone areas, James Sano, the chief executive officer for WASAC, said.
While launching the initiative that is expected to benefit 653 cattle keepers, James Musoni, the Minister of Infrastructure, challenged dairy farmers to take advantage of the water to boost milk production.
“The more milk you produce, the more money you will earn to help you carry out other income generating activities,” the minister said on Friday.
Sano said Nyagatare is among the utility’s priority areas as far as water supply is concerned.
“Water has been a huge challenge, not only for dairy farmers, but for all the residents. That’s the reason why we prioritised the district in our water supply programme,” Sano said.
Sano noted that in 2012, only 34 per cent of the district’s residents had access to safe water.
“Currently, access to safe water is at 56 per cent, but we are aimed at universal access by 2017,” he added.
Nyagatare residents and leaders were upbeat that access to constant water supply will help improve animal and crop production in the district.
Giovanis Kendaba, whose dairy farm was the first to be connected to piped water supply, was buoyant, saying water is a big challenge that has always affected milk production.
“Now that we have water, will do our best to raise milk output,” Kendaba said.
Erica Poteri, 75, another dairy farmer in Rwempasha, said during the dry season, a jerry can of water from Umuvumba River was going for Rwf300.
“It was not easy for us to buy enough water for home activities and cattle. This has lead to low milk production because our cows did not have enough water to drink,” Poteri explained.
Fred Sabiti Atuhe, the Nyagatare District mayor, said lack of access to safe water had held back the district’s development.
“Shortage of water is a cross-cutting issue that affects socio-economic development. Now that we have access to safe water from WASAC, our people and their livestock will lead improved lives. We also expected crop farmers to utilise this chance and start irrigation projects to produce food throughout out the year,” the mayor said.
Sano said the WATSAN project will be complemented by Lake Victoria Water and Sanitation Programme phase II (LVWATSAN II), a regional programme that covers the East African Community (EAC) bloc. It is being implemented under the Lake Victoria Basin Commission and aims at solving the challenge of insufficient water in the region.
The LVWATSAN II is co-funded by the African Development Bank, through the African Development Fund (over $19 million - about Rwf14.4 billion), and the Government of Rwanda contributed $3.5 million (about Rwf2.7 billion).
Under programme, water supply and sanitation infrastructure will be developed in Nyagatare, Kayonza and Nyanza districts.