While King Paul is mostly overseas these days lecturing how he has built the Singapore of Africa, back home, people are hurting. Massive crop failure has struck hard in Nyagatare District — Voice of America has captured this disaster in a revealing documentary about food refugees crossing into Uganda.
We know what the Kagame regime will do: Deny that the problem exists, or blame the weather. The other name for the regime is “Deny, Deny, Deny, and Deny” the truth about everything under the sun.
The regime will also blame climate change, and point out that the rains have failed for almost a year. Evidently some parts of Nyagatare District have not had rains since February 2015.
But where is planning? Where are strategic predictions and early warnings to mitigate disasters? Where is awareness-raising to enable rural populations to prepare and reduce risks? Where is proactive response after the disasters?
Does Rwanda Meteorological Service even have capacity to deliver sufficient data, information and advisories? Does the service have qualified personnel to forecast disasters in advance for adequate preparation and handling of disasters?
Of course we all know that rainfall deficit risk zones of Rwanda include Bugesera, Nyagatare, Gatsibo, Kayonza, Ngoma and Kirehe districts in the eastern province. Eastern parts of Nyanza and Gisagara districts in southern province are also characterized by high frequency of either rainfall deficit, late rainfall onsets, or early rainfall cessations. Anyone who knows anything about Rwanda knows that these sub-regions are prone to dry spells and drought.
And it goes without saying that droughts are responsible for famine, food shortages, a reduction in plant and animal species and displacement of people in search of food and pasture.
This is why Rwandans are crossing into Uganda — they are food refugees. This is not rocket science. Hungry people will do anything to survive. So, rather than hide its head in the sand, the Kagame regime should at least appeal for food aid to mitigate hunger.
The regime does not have money to handle the situation on its own. Rwanda is currently suffering from a combination of self-inflicted wounds — depressed exports, massive imports, shrinking foreign reserves, and expenditure on prestige projects such as the Kigali Convention Centre. KCC swallowed much of the USD400 million Eurobond acquired in 2013.
Let the regime not hide hunger — ask for foreign food aid.
By Dr David Himbara