Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB) has said resources are being mobilised to conduct 35,000 studies on ways to enhance irrigation use in the country.
In a recent interview with The New Times, Innocent Nzeyimana, the head of Land husbandry, Irrigation and Mechanisation at RAB, said they were rolling out small-scale irrigation technology as a short term intervention, but building dams for irrigation was a more sustainable and long term solution.
The government injects Rwf2 billion every year in small-scale irrigation projects but will be increased to Rwf3 billion due to the threat of drought.
“We are referring to water master plan that shows where there is potential to collect water for dams. These are the places where, for example, you can find streams, rivers and lakes. An irrigation master plan also shows how much area can be irrigated. These master plans are available at every district and from them we are developing irrigation studies,” he said.
He said focus was mostly on the eastern region, where 35,000 hectares could be irrigated using dams.
“Other studies on constructing dams might be completed next year. Such studies require implementation and it will be done as funds gradually become available, either through the government budget or obtaining sponsors,” he explained.
Nzeyimana said funds were available for the implementation of an irrigation project in Kirehe near River Akagera, where activities will start in April.
He added that other dams are being constructed while the rest are underway.
“In Rulindo District, at Muyanza site, a dam is being constructed. We have more studies on dams in place and others that are on course across the country, especially near lakes, rivers and streams,” he said.
He also cited an example of an irrigation project dubbed ‘Rwamagana 35’ in Rwamagana district and other irrigation projects in Ngoma.
Others are being developed around lakes Cyohoha, Mugesera, Rweru,Rilima, Gashora in Bugesera District.
“Studies have been completed in Nyagatare District at Ruhu , Akagera and Muvumba rivers while another to irrigate 5,000 hectares using Akagera River was completed in Gatsibo District,” he added.
He said that last year, in conjunction with the Rwanda Defence Force reserve force, they built 13 valley tanks containing 40,000 cubic metres of water for up to 5,000 domestic animals in Nyagatare and Kayonza districts which could serve in dry season.