Irrigation Practices and Water Conservation Opportunities in Migina Marshlands
Relationship between water and land is much known worldwide, particularly in the context of agriculture. Climate changes with rainfall variations during all or part of the year require irrigation water conservation practices. Despite being a country of great lakes and the headwaters of two greatest African rivers, the Nile and the Congo, Rwanda is a water scarce country. Rwanda has about 165000 hectares of marshlands in which only 94000 hectares are in use, but some of them are not used wisely. About 90% of the rural populations are farmer; however, they do not produce enough food to satisfy their needs. This is due to the continuous use of traditional, subsistence and inefficient farming practices which are mainly rainfed. Irrigation is practiced mainly in the marshlands using the inflows into the marshlands, but over the years, these marshlands are becoming less productive. This trend could be attributed to irrigation practices in the marshlands, which tend to drain the marshlands instead of conserving the water. This research aims at studying the current irrigation practices in the marshlands and looks for opportunities of water and nutrient conservation to restore the fertility for improved food production. Using questionnaire to the farmers, analysis of the existing and acquired data, this study could bring about the promotion of irrigation water conservation practices in the catchment. Seasonality and topographic conditions, with accompaniment of erosion, flooding and drought problems, are discussed to show how rehabilitation, redesigning, reinstallation and better maintenance of existing or new irrigation structures, introduction of improved irrigation systems in the catchment, rainwater harvesting and recharging of aquifers could contribute to land protection and improvement of irrigation water conservation practices in the catchment. Finally, ways in which irrigation water conservation practices could be utilized are explored as well as possible impediments that might be encountered.
Environmental protection, Food production, Groundwater recharge, Irrigation water conservation practices, Rainwater harvesting.
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