Agriculture is mostly dependent on rainfall. So, harvesting and conserving rainwater is critical to increasing agricultural production.
Rainwater harvesting and conservation remains key, and was part of messages that dominated the world food day celebrations, held on 27 October 2023.
It was also this year’s theme dubbed “Water is Life, Water is Food. – Leave no one behind”
Essentially, the theme explains that there is a vital connection between water and food – without water there is no food and there is no food security without water security.”
In Rwanda, the world food day was celebrated in Kayonza district, Eastern Province on October 27 and attended by the Ministry of Agriculture (MINAGRI), Food and Agriculture Organization (FA0), farmers and non-governmental organizations.
“In the current world challenges; climate change, wars and significant reduction of natural resources, we must be concerned with the usage of water, it is a must. We must take care of rainwater usage in all possible ways in line with sustainable development goals, or SDGs,” Coumba Dieng Sow, FAO representative in Rwanda said.
She applauded the government’s rainwater harvesting and conservation efforts, using dams that were constructed in Kayonza district.
Ozonnia Ojielo, United Nations resident Coordinator in Rwanda said that the world has lost rainwater for a long time, and it is time to work together on establishing sophisticated ways for rainwater harvesting and conservation across the world.
Today, Kayonza district has about 60,000 hectares that are cultivated season to season. The constructed dams facilitate irrigation of gardens both in the drought and rain season in the district.
“There is no problem so far, we expect good yields from our farms. The plants look healthy,” Jean Bosco Mwiseneza, Mayor of Kayonza district said. He added that 26 dams were constructed for rainwater harvesting and conservation in the district and has supported season to season farming.
The rainwater harvesting and conservation campaign coincided with world food day, and local community work, commonly known as Umuganda. It was graced by various officials from FAO, MINAGRI, USAID, among others. It was held in Rwakabanda village, Ryamanyoni cell, located in Murundi sector.
“The available dams are for residents. They must be looked after well by conserving water, taking care of the crops. Harvesting water is important, no rainwater should be wasted, to start with is harvesting rainwater from rooftops of our houses,” Dr Ildephonse Musafiri, Minister of Agriculture said.
He pointed out that the government is working hard to look for a market for the harvest, and at good prices.
According to the UN-water, water, food, and energy are intertwined and fundamental to sustainable development.
The UN agency adds that agriculture is the world’s largest consumer of freshwater resources, and water is utilised to produce the majority of energy.
In 2019, International Fund for Agricultural Development, or IFAD partnered with the government to fight poverty in the drought-prone Eastern Province. The development goal of the project dubbed Irrigation and Integrated Watershed Management Project (KIIWP) was to improve the food security and income of 50,000 rural households while also increasing their climate resilience.
The project targeted poor and food insecure rural households, with special emphasis on the poorest individuals, women, and youth.
The project worth Rwf81billion also supported 225,000 people who formerly suffered from drought consequences in Kayonza district.