Rwanda: 8,000 Farmers Secure Jobs to Address Sebeya River Floods

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At least 8,000 residents from Rubavu District have secured jobs amid the Covid-19 pandemic, to work in addressing floods that are caused by Sebeya River.

The river floods have been adversely affecting Rubavu, Rutsiro, Nyabihu and Ngororero Districts.

Building infrastructure to eliminate the floods is one of the projects that was given green light to continue operating despite Covid-19 lockdown since it was considered as essential services.

Farmers who got jobs are from the sectors of Kanama, Nyundo, Nyakiriba and Rugerero.

They are constructing terraces that will reduce runoff water and erosion that submerge the Sebeya River and cause floods.

The floods have been claiming lives of people, destroying infrastructure such as roads, bridges, hydropower plants, water treatment plants as well as crops.

Vestine Nyirahakuzimana, is one of the farmers whose land was prone to erosion where International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has developed Village Land Use Action Planning processes (VLUAPs) where people living in the Sebeya River catchment have participated in identifying local problems of landscape degradation and soil erosion caused by deforestation, unsustainable agricultural and mining practices.

“I started the job in the beginning of March this year. We work five days per week and each farmer gets Rwf1, 300 per day,” she said.

She said that previously she had no job except tilling a small piece of land on the site where terraces are being constructed.

They are beneficiaries of a Rwf22 billion three-year project to run from 2020 to 2022 with a target to address Sebeya River floods.

“The job has helped me to feed my family despite the coronavirus pandemic. I have also spent part of the wage to subscribe to community based-health insurance premiums. I also bought two sheep,” she said.

She added that they have also embraced the Ejo Heza saving scheme for their bright future.

Ejo Heza is a pension scheme intended to improve the welfare, especially, of workers in the informal sector once they retire as a result of old age, debilitating diseases or accidents resulting from occupational hazards.

The scheme was launched in December 2018 and more than Rwf2 billion has been saved into Ejo Heza long-term savings scheme.

“Through this job of building terraces, we have to save part of the wage for Ejo Heza. We are paid after every 15 days and each saves Rwf1, 300 for such a saving scheme,” she said.

This is the 5th month, Nyirahakuzimana has been on the job.

Jean Paul Habinshuti, another farmer from the Kanama Sector who started the job in April said that he has already bought three sheep from the job.

“I also have land on this hill and I grow maize and Irish potatoes. My wife and I have got jobs here,” he noted.

The project to curb floods into Sebeya River- across 4 administrative districts in Western Province -is being implemented by the Government of Rwanda through the Rwanda Water Resources Board in collaboration with International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and Netherlands Development Organization (SNV).

It was funded by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands (EKN) in Rwanda.

Prime Ngabonziza, the Director of Rwanda Water Resources Board said that the works will take three years to eliminate floods caused by the Sebeya River.

“There are other small rivers that flow into the Sebeya River and cause floods. We will construct terraces and plant trees on catchments to avoid erosion and floods,” he said adding that dams to reduce flood speed will be also constructed.

Deogratias Nzabonimpa, The Vice in charge of economic development in Rubavu District said that the project has so far constructed terraces on 150 hectares in the district.

With combined efforts, terraces have so far been constructed on 312 hectares in the district while anti-erosion ditches are on 805 hectares.

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