June 17, 2024


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Kayonza Farmers Reap Benefits of Improved Livestock Health and Increased Milk Production Thanks to New Water Infrastructure

Water scarcity and animal stress associated with the long distance that cattle needed to go in order to reach the nearest water point, were among the pressing issues that used to affect the milk production and farmers’ development in Kayonza District, Eastern Province.

During past droughts, this region was hit by high untapped potential for water resources which caused food insecurity among individuals and affected the life of livestock and its production.

To respond to water-related challenges, the government of Rwanda in partnership with IFAD proposed the Kayonza Irrigation and Integrated Watershed Management Project (KIIWP) through which 15 valley dams were upgraded and 20 boreholes installed, easing access to clean water for local population and cattle.

Gisagara Felicien, a farmer from the Murundi Sector, Kayonza District, said that they had a problem with cows dying due to lack of water and having to travel long distances to get it, but with the implementation of KIIWP, impacts are remarkable in terms of milk production.

“We could get money only when we sell cows but today we are earning much money from selling milk. We are able to pay school fees for our children, doing everything and people have realized how important cow breeding is”, he said.

Ntabyera Innocent from Buhabwa cell, said that apart from having water for cattle, they have access to clean water for domestic use.

“We were all using water from the swamp, sharing it with cows and it was affecting life of our children suffering from diseases associated with unclean water but things have changed, now we drink clean water.”

Gashayija Benon, Executive Secretary of Murundi Sector addressing the media

According to Gashayija Benon, Executive Secretary of Murundi Sector, it is the first time at the Buhabwa Milk Collection Centre where they receive more than 10,000 liters of milk during the dry season. It is thanks to water infrastructure brought closer to the farmers. The shorter the cow travels to drink water, the more milk it produces. Another is the health of the people in their homes; that income increased with the increase in the price of milk, before a liter cost Rwf150, now it is Rwf300”, he said.

Gashayija highlighted that in Murundi Sector more than 82% of residents have access to clean water thanks to KIIWP II intervention in very difficult area in terms of provision.

Sebudandi Stephan, Director of Buhabwa Milk Collection Centre, said: “Since we have access to water infrastructure, the health of cattle has increased. The biggest problem was the loss of milk, animals dying from dehydration and long journeys. Another thing is that the cows were losing weight, you would take them to the market and not get enough money. During the dry season, we could only get about 3,000 which could rise to 8,000 liters during the rainy season; now we have reached 12,000 liters during the rainy season.”

Sebudandi Stephan, Director of Buhabwa Milk Collection Centre

Among the challenges farmers are facing include the access to dairy cattle.

To address this challenge, the local leadership decided to set semen storage at Milk Collection Centre and farm level, ES, Gashayija said, adding that they are ready to guide farmers who need to buy dairy cows.

The goal of Kayonza Irrigation and Integrated Watershed Management Project-Phase II (KIIWP2) is to “contribute to poverty reduction in the drought-prone Eastern Province of Rwanda in nine drought-prone sectors of the twelve sectors in Kayonza District, namely Gahini, Kabare, Kabarondo, Murama, Murundi, Mwiri, Ndego, Ruramira, and Rwinkwavu.

The project development objective is to improve the food security and incomes of at least 40,000 rural households on a sustainable basis and build their climate resilience.

KIIWP II Operations Manager, Uwitonze Théogène, has revealed that the project will last for 10 years; the first phase of four years has been completed with activities that do not require sophisticated studies.

Water for cattle and domestic use in Murundi, Gahini, Mwiri and Ndego Sectors was availed through installation of 20 boreholes and rehabilitation of 15 valley dams, among other achievements.

Ntabyera Innocent, a farmer from Buhabwa Cell, Murundi Sector, Kayonza District
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