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Rutsiro: Hit by the disaster last year, now protected by planting trees

Some of the people who live in the highlands of Rwanda say that they have understood the cause of disasters that often kill many lives and property.

Rutsiro district, in the west, is one of the most affected by the effects of climate change which has caused heavy rains that have caused a lot of damage and killed people.

Last year about 130 people were killed by the floods and hundreds of billions of dollars in damages.

Rutsiro is one of the regions of Rwanda characterized by high and steep mountains. This, as well as other places like this, is one of the most affected by disasters that kill people’s lives and property.

The International Forestry Research Institute (ICRAF) finds that the only reliable way to prevent erosion in sloping areas is to reforest the hills.

It says that trees should be planted in large numbers and the people should be taught to take care of them in order to avoid the disasters that always destroy them.

In the Gihango sector of the Rutsiro region, a group of women are organizing a tree nursery (or ‘pépinière’ in French), so that there will be more to give to the people.

Beata Nyiraminani is the head of this group. “Disasters often come and destroy homes and people [die].

“Like the rivers… you see our Lake Kivu, when the disaster comes, it will be destroyed as well as the living things in it.”

Currently, the cultivated land is getting smaller, not all trees are found and these are required to be planted. There is a need for trees that can tolerate natural crops, living side by side on the same land.

Jean Claude Bambe, an expert at ICRAF, says that they have also thought about this issue.

He said, “On half a hectare of land, you don’t even care about the forest to find a place to farm.

“So the trees we respect are the ones that start the harvest. There are acacia, there are alinus, there are perfumes and there are trees that can increase the yield if their leaves are mixed with grass for livestock.”

A bonus has been set up to encourage people to take better care of trees. Every resident who manages seven out of ten trees is given a small animal, which can be a goat or a pig.

Elder Stanislas from Gihango sector is one of the participants in this program. He said, “I will always see unbroken wood and my children will be left wondering [to ask trees] to feed them. Trees are important because they put down roots and keep the soil moving.”

This way of rewarding the people has made them take better care of the trees they have been given, but there are also other benefits from it.

Turamye Servilien is the director of agriculture and conservation of natural resources in Rutsiro district.

He says that the trees are resistant to erosion and that their leaves become compost.

It also includes fruit trees

He said, “As of now we have given them avocado trees that help them fight malnutrition and in the market one seed is between 500 and 1000 rupees.

“On the international market, they can reach up to 3 US dollars (about 4 thousand Rwandan francs).”

This tree planting program appears to be still in the experimental stage.

It is now in Rutsiro districts in the west, and Kayonza, Nyagatare and Gatsibo in the east of the country.

The representative of the ICRAF center in Rwanda, Dr Athanase Mukuralinda, says that it is possible that this project will be delivered to the whole country.

According to him, man has the ability to deal with the erosion that causes disasters, since it is caused by human activities, and the consequences that happen to him.

“When you get to a forested area, you see that erosion is not coming in. Unless the people cut down the trees.

“Just looking at the government’s action against erosion, we can see that in less than four or five years, the erosion would have stopped in Rwanda while the current situation would have continued.”

The International Center for Forest Research (ICRAF) states that human activity is the main driver of erosion, and that the next disaster will be human-induced.

Only this company says that this person is the one who has the ability to fight erosion that causes trees, and if it is possible to preserve 70% of the trees in the country, the problem of erosion would be completely ended.

Gaston Rwaka

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