Eradicating hunger and stunting looms: Impressive progress arising from zeal of Nyamagabe residents

On 28 December 2022 at 09:31

In the past, Gikongoro was renowned as an area hit hard by hunger where residents had received a pejorative name of ‘Abatebo’ describing their heavy reliance on exchange of foods using traditional baskets to alternate diets. Abatebo is a name derived from a Kinyarwanda noun ‘Igitebo’ (basket). Therefore, the name Abatebo implies those residents who heavily relied on subsistence farming.

Considering endured miserable life, their development seemed to be a fairy tale. The former Gikongoro Prefecture currently comprises two districts including Nyamagabe and Nyaruguru.

Their soil contained much acidity that yields were very low. Sources indicate that the name originated from crops’ disease or hunger occasioned by insufficient agricultural produce or regular pests ravaging crops.

Today, transformations are self-evident. The biting hunger has been eliminated while the name Abatebo has changed to wealthy people. The soil acidity has reduced that the area is covered with flourishing crops and tea grown for local consumption and export markets.

With the land area of 1090 square kilometers, the largest part of Nyamagabe District touches Nyungwe National Park which receives a large number of tourists to experience the Canopy Walkway, fauna and flora. The park’s management also helps them enjoy a memorable stay through hospitality establishments like One & Only Nyungwe House among others.

The development that has significantly impacted residents, stems from hard work by members of the private sector who relentlessly paid taxes over the past 25 years since Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) was established.

Education, health and social protection

Over the past 25 years, the country expended much effort to recover its economy which had been devastated following the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

This resilience journey went hand in hand with psychiatric among other initiatives to heal the wounds of Rwandans affected by the Genocide and strive for a united country looking forward to a shared future without ethnic divisions.

Transformations in Nyamagabe District cover different areas including the education sector. Several schools have been constructed in different sectors and reduced dropouts as students can access education near their doorsteps.

Under the 12 years basic education programme, over Rwf10 billion was allocated for construction of schools that Nyamagabe currently registers at least 5 schools in each sector.

The Mayor of Nyamagabe District, Hildebrand Niyomwungeri affirms that there has been a significant milestone regarding efforts to achieve universal access to education.

“Despite the fact that schools were very few before 25 years, each sector has at least not less than five schools. The number has significantly increased as we currently have more than 150 schools,” he said.

As for health sector, two hospitals including Kaduha and Kigeme were renovated and built.

Other health infrastructures built in the district include health centers, 40 health posts among others under construction.

New office buildings for cells and sectors also cost more than Rwf1 billion.

Eradicating hunger and improving soil productivity

Nyamagabe District was reported to be experiencing persistent hunger for long due to acidic soil that resulted in low agricultural yields.

Niyomwungeri affirms that dealing with hunger in Nyamagabe required considerable efforts through wetland restoration, land consolidation and application of organic fertilizers among others.

“Generally, we have achieved a lot in all aspects of citizens’ wellbeing that whoever visits the district after 25 years witnesses remarkable transformations,” he revealed.

Today, the acidic soil is efficiently used to grow various crops including Irish potatoes, wheat and tea and the agricultural produce has increased in no small part.

Niyomwungeri underscored that hunger that was reported in the district in 25 years has been eradicated and went in hand with reduction of stunting which currently stands at 33.6%.

Nyamagabe residents also attest that they have come a long way considering attained transformations.

“In the past, our yields were low. Today, we had access to lime and fertilizers that helped us to increase yields. This increased productivity in combination with infrastructure development in different areas bespeaks some of attained transformations,” said Eliphase Hakizimana from Gasaka Sector.

In a bid to uplift Nyamagabe residents from poverty, different infrastructures including seed collection centers, feeder roads, business center workshops to foster innovations and modern markets were constructed.

New power transmission lines, water distribution systems and tarmac roads are among other developed infrastructures.

Nyamagabe District officials have encouraged residents to continue contributing to national development through taxes to walk together towards a prosperous and shared future.

The largest part of Nyamagabe District touches Nyungwe National Park.
Different business center workshops have been built to foster innovations and creation of new jobs.
Some of multi-storey classrooms built in Nyamagabe District.
The Mayor of Nyamagabe District, Niyomwungeri Hildebrand says that a lot has been achieved over the past 25 years.