By Otushabire Tibyangye
Kiruhura District that comprises Nyabushozi and Kazo counties is an
ideal place for cattle keeping. It has lash green pastures during the
rainy seasons making it an envy for the cattle keeping community. However
the situation changes when the dry season sets in as the green
pastures turn into dry matter making animals yearn for pastures and
Many cattle keepers in this area have been used to grazing on free
range but not anymore, as the situation is slowly changing.
Many farmers are embracing modern methods which include fencing of the
land, putting up paddocks, supplementary feeding and pasture growing
Modern methods have come with their own challenges of sharing water
sources. In the old days the farmers could access communal water in
valley tanks both for domestic and production purposes but not
Climatic change effects have also taken toll on water sources as they
dry up because of the unpredictable rain patterns and prolonged
Community water sources have become a liability to the farmers
especially those that practice modern farming as some of the animals
which go for watering are diseased with contagious diseases like foot
and mouth while others have to travel long distances to access the
water hence the need for smaller valley tanks which can serve about 50
farmers from a small radius.
Having realized the predicament, a community of 30 homes in Kyakabunga
village Nyakashashara Sub County under their organization “Dream Farm
Kyakabunga Group” (DFKG) in partnership with Quaker Service Australia(
QSA) a donor organization from Australia, have come up with a Shs 20 million model dam design of water for production and domestic purposes that will help the farmers access the water from selected water points that will ease their plight during the dry season.
The first phase was digging of a big valley tank, fence it off which
has been done. The next phase is to pump the water closer to the homes
of the beneficiaries while at the same time encouraging farmers to
build tanks at home for rain water harvesting from the roofs.
Jackson Kanunu the chairperson of (DFKG) has donated land where the
dam has been constructed.
“When we sat down as a village, we realized
that teamwork would be the only method that would help us solve the
water shortage, currently some of our neighbours and members
are watering their animals at Kyakabunga water dam a distance of 10 km
from their farms”.
Kiruhura District was hard hit by the prolonged dry season in June 2016 leading to many water points drying out. This force many farmers to trek long distance with their animals in search of water.
Kanunu says he had been helping his neighbours to access his small valley
tank but found out that this was not sustainable hence the need to
expand the tank by donating land for the expansion of the valley tank.
“We have been holding meetings to see how we modernize our farms by
provision of water and pasture growing, paddocking and regular
spraying,” he says.
Ms Phoebe Kobushoro 65 years one of the beneficiaries says the
intervention has come at a time when they need the water most as they
have experienced one of the worst prolonged drought in the recent
“We shall us this water source profitably so as to improve our lively
hoods which have been at stake during the dry seasons. Personally I
have 30 crossbreed animals; getting them water has been a tall order.
I have been buying water from a water bowser at Shs 1,000 a jerrican
of 20 lt,” she says.
Kanunu says since the construction of the dam was finished about 70 homes have a cause to smile. They now have access to a permanent source of water for both domestic and animal production.
“Milk yields have gone high, animals no longer trek long distances for water, women are now engaged in pruduction activities and animal health has improved,” he says.
The veterinary officer in charge of Nyakashashara Sub County Dr Grace
Agaba says the area is in dire need of water intervention. “If one
wants to help the people of this region especially through wealth
creation, should focus on water rather than giving them animals since
the already existing animals are dying due to lack of water,” he says.
The sub county boarders with Lake Mburo National Park and during the
dry season wild animals stray into people’s farms for better pastures
and end up consuming the water in the valley tanks on people’s farms.
“Farmers in this region can never be sure to preserve water in their
farms as they share it with wild animals. I am advocating for pumping
of water from Lake Mburo to the sub county and beyond to help the
farmers have reliable water rather than depending on rains because
when the rains fail, animals die due to water shortage. During this
dry season many farmers in the sub county lost about 500 animals thus
loss of income”, he says. Apart from L.Mburo, there is no any other
source of water other than harvesting rain water during the rainy
Kanunu says some of the members have started using the dam water for practicing irrigation of their crops and the valley tank has become a source of fish. “Some farmers grew tomatoes this last dry season and were able to increase on their incomes and others have been getting fish that has improved nutrition in their homesteads.”
Apart from animals the group has started growing maize, beans,
bananas, cassava, ground nuts, coffee and fruit trees to diversify
their incomes and improve on nutrition and food security. Traditionary
cattle keeping communities depend on meat and milk for their