An estimated 300,000 people are set to have access to clean water, while 7,380 hectares of farmland are expected to be irrigated thanks to a multibillion project set to be implemented in Nyagatare District.
The project got a boost on Monday, February 22, after parliament approved a €121.5 million (Rwf145 billion) loan from the African Development Bank.
The loan will fund the integrated development initiative on the use of Muvumba River water.
While explaining the relevance of the project before Members of Parliament, Uzziel Ndagijimana, the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, said that the loan, charged at 1.47 per cent interest rate per annum, will be paid in 25 years, which include eight years of grace period.
The aim of the initiative, he said, is to use Muvumba to supply water for residents to meet domestic needs, livestock farming, irrigation of crops to increase food production, as well as generating power.
The project involves a dam with 30.5 metres of height and the capacity to contain 35 million cubic metres (m3) of water and a power plant to generate 740 kilowatts.
“The initiative is in line with the country’s development agenda planned for in the vision 2050 and the first phase of the national strategy for transformation (NST 1) [which runs from 2017 through 2024],” the minister said.
The project’s benefits include the development of agriculture through irrigation in Tabagwe, Gatunda, Karama, Rukomo, Nyagatare, Rwempasha, Musheri and Rwimiyaga sectors.
The Minister said that it will also provide about 24,000 m3 of water every day.
MPs appreciated the project, concurring that it offers a relief to the residents in this drought-prone district of the Eastern Province.
MP Anita Mutesi said that the project will help Nyagatare residents make use of the Muvumba water.
“The Muvumba River has existed for a long, but its water was not being effectively utilised to benefit the residents in its surroundings. This project is timely and commendable,” she said.
MP Odette Uwamariya said that the component of water for consumption for livestock should be given more attention given that Nyagatare is strategic for dairy farming.
MP Francis Karemera said the project is laudable, but expressed concern that Umuvumba water levels decline during the dry season. He indicated that the river waters are already used by some farmers in Kagitumba valley in Matimba Sector to irrigate their crops.
Although he acknowledged that the water could help in irrigating and supporting livestock farming, he also voiced concern that it could be insufficient for the generation of the expected 740 kilowatts from the project.
Ndagijimana reassured MPs of the project effectiveness, indicating that the project study was carried out to ensure its feasibility, pointing out that it took into account the amount of water and its decrease during the dry season.