Rural communities have another reason to smile after the country’s 2500km feeder roads rehabilitation program secured extra funding.
The United States, through its international development arm, USAID has provided Rwanda with a $50 million grant through the World Bank Trust Fund to support the program.
Feeder roads are the main means of trade between local farmers. They also connect to paved highways linking to four of Rwanda’s neighboring countries.
So far, 500km have been rehabilitated by loans; $45 million and €50 million from World Bank and European Union and Netherlands respectively.
Aimable Rusingizandekwe, the Director of Feeder Roads Department in the ministry agriculture told KTPress that rehabilitation of 1km could cost up to Rwf 50 million($72,632) and Rwf 90 million($130,798) in Eastern lowland and hilly Western province respectively.
A plan that will establish total budget for rural feeder roads network is expected early 2016.
Meanwhile, rehabilitation works also provide off-farm employment to improve livelihoods and household income. For farmers though, rehabilitating roads is a matter of priority.
This particular fund will support maintenance of 350km roads from districts of Nyagatare, Gatsibo, and Kayonza in Eastern province, Nyanza and Nyabihu in South and Western province respectively.
These zones are essential suppliers of country food commodities, including potatoes, beans, banana and fruits.
Sina Gerard, a post-harvest entrepreneur says that some of the roads are impassable, especially during rainy seasons. This affects production cost and weighs heavy on rural communities.
Gerardine Mukeshimana, Rwanda’s Agriculture Minister says, “We will keep mobilizing fund for this project because we clearly still need more. Our economy largely depends upon roads’ accessibility and thus, rehabilitation has to be regular.”
More than 80% of the population is engaged in agriculture. The sector contributed 33% to the country’s GDP in 2014.
Erica J. Barks-Ruggles, the US Ambassador to Rwanda said, during the signing ceremony, that the two countries share a vision of securing “a more prosperous future for all Rwandans.”
Barks-Ruggles noted that, “We hope this partnership will allow easier and faster transportation of goods and increased market activities.”
With $150 million, USAID supports Rwanda in other areas such as health, economic development, democracy, education and good governance programs.