Lake Muhazi, in Rwanda, is an important resource for agriculture, fishing, and human nutrition. Also, the green hills and the productive capacities of agriculture, combined with the cleanliness of public places that makes many say they are in an "African Switzerland", constitute an interesting tourist attraction.
However, phenomena related to climate change, imbalances and intensive land use are major problems. “We are beginning to experience the consequences of modified seasonal cycles. The grass dries up and we are unable to feed the cattle; people plant crops and find it dry, which leads to a decline in crops. When we talk about climate change, we as those responsible for feeding livestock understand it very well," says Pierre Uwizeyimana, head of livestock feeding at the "Don Bosco Center" in Muhazi.
Deogratias Kabukuru, a farmer from Gikomero, that overlooks Lake Muhazi, adds: “We used to use our land to favor the crop rotation system. Now it's not possible due to the fact that the small portion we have cannot be left unproductive for a year. We always cultivate the same land relentlessly, and this leads to the loss of soil fertility which reduces yields.”
At the Don Bosco Muhazi Vocational and Technical Training Center, sensitivity to environmental issues has led to the creation of a "Green Club"; its function: to raise awareness and action for the defense and strengthening of the territory. Jean Claude Ndahayo, head of the association, explains: “We are carrying out a series of activities including protecting the trees in the center, planting new trees, removing waste that can damage Lake Muhazi. In addition, there is a plan to start a tree nursery from which we can obtain trees and distribute them to local communities on Gikomero Hill. Obviously, fruit trees are the most favorable here and in that case we can fight hunger and malnutrition among the people here.”
Chantal Musabyimana, a member of Muhazi's “Green Club”, explains: “I see that the harvest has decreased compared to the past when our families easily received organic fertilizers. Manure from the farmers was enough to fertilize the land.” But the answer cannot be given by industrial fertilizers, because, as Deogratias Kabukuru testifies, the use of pesticides has altered the environment, damaging the ecosystem.
“First of all, people need to be educated on how to use the earth wisely and to be guided on how to conserve it,” concludes Pierre Uwizeyimana, of the “Don Bosco Center” in Muhazi.
More information can be found at: www.missionidonbosco.org