By Ange de la Victoire DUSABEMUNGU
Like other young people, 29-year-old Niyoyita Thierry is one of the young people who have been able to get employment in the “Embedding Water Resources Management in Rwanda (EWRM) – Sebeya Project which has been implemented in Sebeya Catchment since 2019.
The project was implemented by the Rwanda Water Resources Board in partnership with the consortium of IUCN Rwanda, SNV and RWARRI with financial support from the Embassy of the Kingdom of Netherlands (EKN) in Rwanda.
In 2020, when COVID 19 affected the world economy, Mr. Niyoyita Thierry, who had been unemployed, became more challenged by the economic crisis.
Fortunately in the same year, Mr. Niyoyita got employed in the Sebeya project.
In his local community, the project activities targeted the Restoration of degraded lands by radical and progressive terraces, agroforestry, afforestation, livestock distribution among vulnerable families and distribution of rain water harvesting tanks among others.
“I remember It was in 2020 when we were in the Lockdown due to COVID 19.” He said.
During this time, the Government of Rwanda decided to reopen some economic activities that were previously closed to contain the spreading of Coronavirus among local communities.
Among the activities that resumed after several time of closure include the Sebeya Project that helped farmers in the project zone to cope with the economic crisis in their families.
“As youth, we were encouraged to participate in the project implementation.” Niyoyita said.
Since then, Niyoyita got a job that enabled him to get out of poverty and he was able to buy a cow and rent a parcel of land where he started to do farming activities, thanks to the income generated from the employment opportunity.
Mr. Niyoyita believes that even after the Sebeya project he will continue to be successful through agriculture and livestock breeding.
“Now I have two cows and a calf. Another one will give birth in May.” He said.
Tracing the way to a professional farmer
The Employment that Niyoyita got in the Sebeya project, he says, is a bridge that connects him to the direction of becoming a professional farmer, since he is also an agriculture graduate.
“I used the money I earned to invest in different activities, especially in agriculture and buying livestock” He said.
“Also, I studied agriculture and animal husbandry. So I was lucky when I got the opportunity that gave me the capital.” He explained
“I invested 40% of my capital but in the next month I am going to invest another 40%.” Niyoyita said.
“The money I will get I will continue to expand my farming activities so that after two years (now I am renting a neighbor’s land) I can take the money and buy my own land and it will be registered on me and then I will be a farmer who does not rely on renting other people’s land but as a farmer owning land.”NIYOYITA THIERRY
So far, Niyoyita is confident mainly because agriculture and animal husbandry have started to yield the benefits.
“I planted 500 Kilograms of potato seeds and I am expecting to harvest about five or six tons.” He said.
“ For the Rwf 700,000 I invested I will harvest about Rwf 1.8 million” Niyoyita noted.
Nyoyita says that before the Sebeya project the life of the youth was very difficult because there were no employment opportunities.
He added that only people could go to graze cattle while other young people like him went to Kigali and Southern Province to find jobs.
However, he said that after the project came the youth returned to participate in the work that they were paid on time, and now they are doing well.
He said, “To tell you the truth, when the project came I had any money in my pocket because I was just finishing school, but I made some progress.”
Commenting on the role of participation in the project activities, Niyoyita said they have the knowledge in cutting the terraces and improving the agriculture and animal husbandry.
The Project goal was and still is “to improve Sebeya catchment management, contributing to increased resilience of communities and landscapes to the impacts of climate change and other drivers”.
The Sebeya Catchment is shared between Rubavu, Rutsiro, Nyabihu and Ngororero districts.
By observing the positive impacts that this project has brought to the community, the project management at the IUCN Rwanda found that the project expansion can thus continue to improve the quality of life of the community.
Mr. Albert Schenk, the IUCN Rwanda Programme Manager who also worked on this project, said, “the progress for this project and the results are excellent.”
He reminded that “ In the beginning, when the project started in May 2019, we were hit by the Corona pandemic and the project was somehow delayed.”
“But because of the importance of this project, the government of Rwanda allowed the project to continue even during the corona pandemic. So in the beginning, it started a bit slow because of the COVID. But we have picked up the pace tremendously. And we are very much on track to achieve what we wanted to achieve on the project.” He explained.
Mr. Albert Schenk added that “When it comes to the impact and based on the testimonies from different beneficiaries, district representatives, community representatives that are all very positive, It is very encouraging.”
“We hope, of course, there might be an extension, because the benefits and achievements of the project are so great. It really well requires continuation, or at least scaling up this project approach to other parts of Rwanda.”Mr. Albert Schenk
Beneficiaries call for the project extension
Apart from the observation made by Mr. Albert Schenk, the administration and the local communities also confirmed that this project was useful and if it continues, it would add more support to the development of the citizens and the region in general.
Havugimana Etienne, the Vice Mayor in charge of the economic Development in Rutsiro District said “It is true that the Project has helped us a lot in the District.”
However, he adds that “Of course, we still have a problem and we are still in discussions with partners to see if the project’s activities can reach more areas.”
Mr. Havugimana noted that the District still has places where erosion is still a major issue.
“We still have that problem and we are still doing advocacy. Maybe an extension would help us and our people.” He added,
“You know that our District is mountainous and agricultural; So you can see that when we join together to fight erosion, we increase productivity and in that time we kill two birds with one stone.” He explained.
Nyirabudori Rahab is a 67 year old who lives in Nyabirasi Sector, Mubuga Cell in Rutsiro District
She said that “I was in the First Category of Ubudehe and I had no clothes to wear. I couldn’t find soap, but this project helped me to improve myself. With the extra money I got from VUP, I was able to buy a plot. I wish the project to continue so that I can be able to build a house in that plot”Nyirabudori Rahab
According to the Director General of the Rwanda Water Resources Board, Dr. Emmanuel Rukundo, the Project has so far used 90% of its total budget adding that the remaining 10% will be used in the finalization of the ongoing intervention.
The USD 22 million project is expected to close in June 2023.
Dr. Rukundo revealed that the current project activities progress stand at 86% of the total works to be done within the project framework.
The Sebeya Project in Figures
Within a three-year period, the EWMR project in Sebeya Catchment (Rubavu, Rutsiro, Nyabihu and Ngororero districts) achieved the following:
- Radical terraces : 1,559.73 Ha
- Progressive terraces : 836.37 Ha
- Trenches in forest : 2,818.13 Ha
- Afforestation : 215.68 Ha
- Agroforestry : 730.90 Ha
Flood control infrastructures
- Sebeya lateral dyke (Location: Village: Nkora-Mukondo, Cell: Mukondo, Sector: Nyundo)
- Sebeya retention dam (Location: Village: Kaje, Cell: Musabike, Sector: Kanama)
- Bukeri Diversion channel and flood retention walls (Location: Village:Kagarama-
Kamuhoza, Cell:Kamuhoza, Sector:Kanama)
- 621 Rainwater harvesting (RWH) Tanks to Households (HHs)
- 35 RWH Tanks to Schools
- 860 Cows to HHs through the Girinka Program
- 2,182 Small livestock for HHs
- 154 Kitchen Gardens
- 3,249 Improved Cooking Stoves (ICS) to HHs
- 12 Community ICS to Schools
- 331 Village Saving and Loans Associations (VSLAs) established, with over 6,000 members (of which 58% were women)
- Implementation of value chain development (e.g. maize, beans, potatoes) and agricultural livelihood interventions to enhance food security and local income, enhancing the resilience of local communities to economic and natural shocks.
- Total Males : 16,589
- Total Females : 20,327
- Over 25 technical studies have been conducted, and guidelines and knowledge products developed, and disseminated. These include the Community Approach Guidelines, the State of Soil Erosion Control in Rwanda, Implementation Design of Payment of Ecosystem Services,
- Value chains analysis, Climate-smart agriculture guidelines, Compost making guidelines have been developed.
- Baseline Report food, and Nutrition survey in Sebeya Catchment Pilot village, and Radical terraces and agricultural productivity cost-benefit analysis were conducted.