The horizons glimmer, radiating the blue sky with heavenly hope for the scorching sun has been replaced with pregnant clouds and rays of hope. On the ground, grass blossoms and the fields are green again, the black cultivated mounds revealing that farmers have been tilling.
Welcome to Eastern Province, where the unusual dry spell had caused anguish, ruined farms and left farmers wondering if the gods were deserting them.
In Murundi Sector, Kayonza District, like other residents in the other 12 sectors of Nyagatare, Kayonza and Kirehe districts which were affected by the just-ended prolonged drought in Eastern Province, people have received seeds aid for planting Season A
Among the happiest are the provincial authorities who have been careful to analyse and report accurately the scope of the impact of the drought on the people.
The outgoing provincial governor, Odette Uwamariya, cannot withhold her joy for the coming of the rains.
“At present, we are sure that we will walk through this period successfully. Our people receive what to eat and now are receiving seeds and fertilisers that will help them have their own food in the coming few months” she said.
Uwamariya encouraged the farmers to do farm activities in time because of the unreliability of climate and to embark on forestation as well as conserving the available tree cover.
“At the moment, it has rained everywhere in the province and 178 tonnes of maize, along with fertilisers, are being distributed in drought affected sectors. Our people should seize this opportunity of the first rains to grow crops,” Uwamariya said.
Nobert Sendege, the director of Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB) in Eastern Province, said the maize seeds they distributed to farmers can cover up to 12,000 hactares of fields for people who were affected by the drought.
“Everyone on the list takes several kilogrammes of maize and fertilisers depending on the size of their garden. So far, we are through with distribution and farmers are sowing their seeds everywhere” said Sendege
Jeannette Nyiransengimana, from Cyamburara Village, Buhabwa Cell in Murundi Sector, Kayonza District, is one of the people who were affected by the prolonged drought and currently receiving food aid – the Government has been giving food aid to affected population since June.
She said they had been told way back that they would receive seeds and fertilisers on top of food aid but did not fully believe it.
“We now getting almost disappointed because we had started seeing others preparing to sow while we had nothing to sow although we had been assured of seeds and fertilisers,” Nyiransengimana said.
“We are more hopeful that soon we will wean ourselves off food aid,” she added.
Twelve of 96 sectors of Kayonza, Nyagatare and Kirehe districts in Eastern Province were affected by the dry spell that hit hard from April, rendering farming activities in the province redundant.
The Government intervened to help the families that were affected by aiding them with maize and beans for food and trucks for fetching water for both people and cattle.
Besides food aid and seeds, the Government also embarked on construction of valley dams that would help store water when it rains for use during the dry season.
The construction of new valley dams and rehabilitation of the old facilities ones will cost Rwf1.6 billion and will make 59 of them in the whole province.
This means that there will be at least one valley dam in every two sectors in the province.