RWANDA – The International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD) has partnerd with Rwanda in a new US$24.7 million project that aims to improve food and nutrition security, climate resilience and raise incomes by increasing production.  

The projects dubbed “Kayonza Irrigation and Integrated Watershed Management Project” seeks to improve the livelihoods about 7,167 rural households in Rwanda.

The financing agreement for the first phase (KIIWP1) was signed by Gilbert F. Houngbo, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), and Gerardine Mukeshimana, Minister of Agriculture and Animal Resources of the Republic of Rwanda. 

Project financing includes a US$17.8 million loan and US$8.3 million climate finance grant from IFAD.

The project will be cofinanced by the Government of Rwanda (US$5.4 million) and the beneficiaries themselves (US$1.5 million). 

Agriculture is the key driver in transforming the country’s economy as the sector currently employs around 70 per cent of the population and provides 91 per cent of the food consumed in the country.

The sector also accounts for 70 per cent of export revenue and 32.7 per cent of the GDP.

However, it is characterized by small production units and high population pressure on natural resources.

Notabely, about 80 per cent of the rural population is made up of subsistence farmers who depend mainly on rainfed production (less than 6 per cent of all cultivated land in the country is irrigated). 

KIIWP1 will respond to the urgent need to tackle water issues and will be implemented in eight drought-prone areas in the Eastern Province,

These include Gahini, Kabare, Kabarondo, Murama, Murundi, Mwiri, Ndego and Rwinkwavu which receive limited rainfall averaging just 900mm per year compared to the rest of the country (1,000 mm to 1,400 mm).

While rural households face serious water scarcity during dry months, there is high potential for irrigation development.

The new project will promote climate-smart agriculture for irrigated and rainfed lands through farmer field schools, as well as disseminating good nutritional practices.

Furthermore, it will invest in catchment rehabilitation, livestock and domestic water infrastructure development and establishment of efficient infrastructure management institutions.   

KWIIP1 will help 11,250 rural farmers gain access to land and water to increase their production and bring 1,400 hectares of land under climate-resilient management that will benefit 21,000 people.

The project will construct 35 valley tanks and boreholes in rainfed areas and invest in schemes for the irrigation of 2,275 hectares.

Since 1981, IFAD has financed 19 rural development programmes and projects in Rwanda at a total cost of US$621.14 million, with an IFAD investment of US$382.06 million.

These projects and programmes have directly benefited 1,540,517 rural households.