Promoting Sustainable Food Systems in the Albertine Rift region

ARCOS works with different partners to promote sustainable agricultural practices that increase productivity and ecosystem resilience. Through its Nature Based Community Development Programme, ARCOS has been supporting communities to implement sustainable agriculture in Bugesera, Kirehe and Rutsiro districts using its BEST Approach . The above-mentioned districts have been faced with unusual irregularities in climate patterns including extreme temperatures and variability in rainfall frequencies.

As a response to the climate associated issues, ARCOS has promoted integrated water management initiatives for hillside irrigation and domestic use. These include two small-scale irrigation systems using solar energy to pump water, established in Kirehe and Bugesera (in Rwanda) and feed 6ha in total. In Kirehe, the irrigation system is located in Kabungeri village and pumps water from Akagera river to hillside farms; and in Bugesera, it is located in Rugarama village and pumps water from Cyohoha North Lake to adjacent farms. Additionally, a gravity water supply system was established in Kirehe district, in Kigende village and it enables irrigation of fruits and vegetable farms across 23 ha. 

Furthermore, large-scale tree planting including fruit species, wood species, shrub species and indigenous species is done annually to promote agroforestry in Rwanda and Uganda. This activity goes also hand in hand with training farmers in land restoration and conservation through SALM (Sustainable Agricultural Land Management) practices. Moreover, livestock rearing was promoted at household and farmer-based cooperative levels, for manure and income generation.

Granted that, farmers cooperatives need to deliver quality grown produce, they are being facilitated to get postharvest handling and market linkage. 

Most of these initiatives were supported through the Water _ Energy _ Food Nexus project funded by Rwanda Environment and Climate Fund (FONERWA). However, others of the kind are being implemented in the same landscapes to strengthen what have been achieved and ensure sustainability. Meanwhile, ARCOS ensures rigorous and regular monitoring which goes beyond implementation phase of each project. The monitoring is conducted through a participatory and inclusive approach involving beneficiary farmers’ —now Nature Based Community Enterprises, local government and ARCOS— to ensure that these initiatives are sustained and properly contribute to building climate resilience and sustainable community development in the focal landscapes.  

ARCOS’ interventions fostering sustainable agriculture have shown strong impact so far in several aspects of the social-economic capital and environmental capital. Murenzi, the Chairperson of KOIMIZANYA, one of the beneficiaries NBCEs testifies a significant improvement in overall management of the cooperative. He  mentioned among others, strong leadership and governance of the cooperative, agriculture productivity enhancement due to enhanced practices on farm especially use of manure, erosion control and agroforestry, financial management and income increment at cooperative and member household levels thanks to enhanced know-how in financial literacy and business planning, as well as enhanced understanding and sustainability