Yashyizweho kuri 23 August, 2016 | 16:19

Famine in Eastern province: A matter of terminology!

People in eastern province of Rwanda are fleeing to neighboring regions and countries like Uganda. This is due to food crisis, as it shined much since September 2015. Meanwhile, different instances don’t agree on the nomination of the crisis. Ministers, The Governor, Mayors, citizens, media, civil society; their concern tend to be more semantic, and not pragmatic.

In 3/7 districts of the province, around 47.306 households are affected. It is a general problem in 12 sectors near Akagera National Park. In Kayonza District, crops in 7 sectors have not had rain for both seasons 2016, and 16.119 ha have been damaged. For Nyagatare towards Ugandan border, 4 sectors are suffering, and 6.619 ha starved. Back to Kirehe with Tanzanian border, one sector of Mpanga is in danger, because 750 ha of crops crumbled of sunshine. This happens on crops, but doesn’t save livestock: cattles are starving, there is no water.

The harvest has been bad in both seasons, so that people couldn’t resist. Some have already fled to Uganda, others left their families to others areas like cities, looking for jobs. Thousands of people went out the country, because of this.

Famine, drought, food crisis…

Since media announced this starvation, politicians woke up, but all turning around words. In a press conference, Dr Alivera Mukabaramba, State Minister in Ministry of Local Governance says,”In Nyagatare, people didn’t harvest due to drought. They need food supplement”.

The ministry of agriculture agrees on “ food shortage, not famine”. While citizens, media and civil society talk of famine. Madame Ingabire Marie Immaculee of Transparency International says “ The famine in eastern province is a result of bad governance and poor planning. Rwanda has too many potentials to face hunger, unless we lack planers”. The speaker of MINALOC, Ladislas Ngendahimana, reacted immediately “ it is not famine, but a drought”.

As the matter of facts, any side being wrong or right, the facts is that: “people lack food”. Government officials are providing support to address food security in the area. Vulnerable families are registered for food supply, but after public works. Each person is provided with a daily package of 2kg of maize and 1kg of beans.
Rwandan officials say,a famine is defined nationwide, while drought and food crisis are local. Thus the case is not the same, as suffering areas are supported by fellows inside the country. Recently, Stella Ford Mugabo, the Minister in charge of cabinet affairs, talked about statistics. And later, the PS(Permanent Secretary) in Ministry of Agriculture, Mr Innocent Musabyimana was demoted.

The Global Hunger Index 2015 ranks Rwanda among the most improving countries, having reduced 50% since 2000 today, now it is on 31% level of hunger. GHI also qualifies countries as: best(0%), low( below 9.9%), moderate(10 – 19.9%), serious(20 – 34%), alarming(35 – 49.9%), extremely alarming(above 50%) and worst(100%). The top 10 to suffer are: Central Africa Republic, Chad, Zambia, East Timor, Sierra Leone, Haiti, Madagascar, Afghanistan, Niger and Yemen.

Jean Baptiste Karegeya

Tanga igitekerezo