Rwanda is greatly susceptible to impacts of climate change through its high dependence on rainfed agriculture. More than 70 percent of Rwandans work in agriculture and the sector contributes to one-third of the country’s gross domestic product. Despite the country’s overall growth and development over the last three decades, climate change has resulted in seasonal droughts that are expected to become more prolonged, causing additional challenges, especially in the east and southeast of Rwanda in Bugesera, Mayaga, and Umutara. When drought occurs, it has significant consequences on the hardest-hit regions due to poor crop and livestock performance, and rising food insecurity.
Current seasonal forecasts for agricultural season A in Rwanda, which runs from mid-September to early-December, indicate an increased probability of below-average rainfall, which may cause dry spells in some parts of the country, especially in the Eastern province and Amayaga region. As a result of this poor rainfall performance, some farmers in the east have not yet planted, while others’ crops have not germinated well. Both this forecast and the increased cost of agricultural inputs, such as seeds and tools, are likely to reduce crop yields for the upcoming harvest, which is expected to occur from December 2022 to January 2023. Adding to the climate-related difficulties facing rural households, food prices in Rwanda have been exceptionally high. According to the World Bank, food inflation in Rwanda is the ninth highest in the world, standing at 34 percent. This is of particular concern as households in Rwanda are heavily market-dependent. Seventy percent of food consumed in the country is procured from local markets, rather than self-produced. Price projections from the Markets Sub-Working Group of the East Africa Food Security and Nutrition Working Group suggest that food prices in Rwanda will continue to rise through at least the end of 2022.
“Providing farmers with irrigation motor pumps will ensure continued local food production and availability, thereby improving their food security and building resilience.”
Thanks to the Government of Belgium’s contribution of USD 500 000, through the SFERA – Anticipatory Action window, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is acting fast. The project will support the resilience capacity of smallholder farmers to help them cope with the predicted impacts of drought, protect their assets and maintain their food security. This in turn will promote the adoption of climate-smart agriculture for better production, better nutrition, a better environment, and a better life for all.
In November 2022, in cooperation with the Government of Rwanda, FAO provided authorities of the Southern Province with 295 irrigation motor pumps. One pump can operate up to six hours per day and irrigate around three hectares of land. The equipment and its accessories are being given to farmers who are mostly in cooperatives and/or other farmers’ associations in eight districts in southern Rwanda, targeting more than 3 500 households. With the overall aim of preventing food insecurity in the region, households will also benefit from awareness building trainings on resilience in the face of climatic shocks.
The project will contribute to improving food security for households expected to face the impacts of the combined shocks – drought plus high food and input prices. This is particularly important to mitigate the impacts of the predicted below-average rains from October to December 2022. The Government of Rwanda is already providing seeds and fertilizers to farmers. This project will be complementary to their actions, particularly in the areas of irrigation and water availability for production.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).