The Rubavu District Administration has announced that the rehabilitation of the Sebeya catchment has started to produce positive results, thanks to the work so far done through the Embedding Water Resources Management project which has significantly proved to be productive.
While the river was destroying properties and killing people, conservation efforts have been made so that agricultural production is now on the rise as the population is now farming on the terraces.
Nzamwita Phocas, who is in charge of agriculture in Kanama Sector, says that the Sebeya River Conservation Project has significantly improved agricultural produce.
“Three years before we started to cultivate on terraces, we are recording higher production compared to the past when we were cultivating in disorder. We used to grow maize and beans. Many people had no idea on how they could cultivate potatoes but with the terracing project we taught them how to grow potatoes and give them fertilizer and now the Kanama sector has ranked in three sectors that produce more potatoes.” Nzamwita explains.
According to Nzamwita, those who are cultivating as a cooperative are now harvesting up to 40 tonnes per hectare while those with individual plots harvest between 20 to 25 tonnes of potatoes on the same hectare.
He says that they are planning to do whatever possible to enable individual farmers to harvest between 30 and 35 tonnes per hectare.
In an Interview with IGIHE, Rubavu District Vice Mayor in charge of Economic Development, Nzabonimpa Deogratias, says the terraces have boosted agricultural productivity and the Sebeya River is no longer a threat to farmers.
“It used to rain on these mountains and take over the land so that there was no benefit but the Sebeya project came with a focus on the immediate answer where people have been able to get the land and fertilizer in order to increase the area under cultivation. This has led to an increase in production, which is why in the Kanama sector, potatoes have become abundant and the price stays stable.” he said.
He further added that apart from production and environmental protection, Sebeya will no longer cause problems to the people.
In this fiscal year 2020/2021, 475 households living along the Sebeya River in Kanama, Nyundo and Nyakiriba Sectors were given cows and 342 cows are yet to be delivered to the people. It is expected that 1811 households will be provided with energy saving cooking stoves while the four schools will be equipped with modern cooking stoves that are environmentally friendly.
The Sebeya catchment Conservation Project, which began operations in May 2019, is expected to be completed by 2022.
Its activities will include the construction of horizontal and vertical terraces, afforestation and agroforestry, construction of dams on the river Sebeya, providing water storage tanks, educating the community on good agriculture practice and lifting the people from poverty through giving them jobs to conserve the catchment while at the same time continuing to protect river sebeya.
It is a project worth Rwf22 billion, funded by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. It covers Rutsiro, Ngororero, Nyabihu and Rubavu districts.
The Sebeya River originates in the mountains of Rutsiro District along the Congo Nile Divide, in Western Rwanda. The river flows for over 110 kilometers with a catchment area of 286 square kilometers spanning the districts of Rutsiro, Ngororero, Nyabihu and Rubavu.
For the past twenty years, hundreds of people in Rubavu District, Western Province have been displaced and communities massively overwhelmed by Sebeya River floods, a result of poor agriculture practices, deforestation and unsustainable mining practices upstream to name a few.
The Government of Rwanda through the Rwanda Water Resources Board in collaboration with International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and Netherlands Development Organization (SNV) are implementing the Embedding Integrated Water Resources Management project which is restoring the landscape and promoting scaleable sustainable resource management through participatory community-based (village and farmer level) approaches in the Sebeya catchment.
The project aims to restore landscape in the upper Sebeya River, through afforestation and the promotion of agroforestry, climate smart agriculture as part of an effort to improve livelihoods and better protect Rwanda’s natural resources.