Sep 21

 

andreanne_blog Andréanne Baribeau

In an attempt to curb the abusive and expensive use of pesticides in Musanze, potato farmers are taking part in a new agricultural program, recently introduced in Rwanda. These farmers are learning the “Integrated Pest Management” techniques through hands-on workshops that take place right in the fields.

I met some of these farmers and prepared this documentary (in French), which was broadcasted on Radio 10 in Rwanda a few weeks ago.


Aug 3

 

andreanne_blog Andréanne Baribeau

Electricity, or “cash power” as it’s called here, remains quite a luxury in Rwanda. It has yet to reach most rural areas and while it’s accessible in cities like Kigali, the electricity bill quickly adds up.

At our house, a 5,000 francs worth of power will last us about a day. That’s just under 10$. Here, you purchase electricity from the national utility company, Electrogaz, the same way you would purchase credit for your mobile phone: by getting a “top-up” at shops such as this one.

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A shop that sells “cash power” in Nyamirambo, Kigali. 

The other day, I interviewed Naila Umubyeyi, who works for the Kigali Institute of Science, Technology and Management (KIST). She explained that in rural areas, most people can’t afford electricity, so wood and charcoal are still used as the main sources of power for cooking and heating.

She said that this high demand for fuel wood is contributing to deforestation, but that new policies have been put into place to help slow down that problem and find alternative sources of energy.

One of these alternative energy sources is biogas, which constitutes a fairly new sector that is currently gaining momentum in the country. Some prisons, hospitals and schools are already equipped with biogas installations, which use human or animal waste to produce methane gas, used for cooking and heating.

Naila Umubyeyi took me to the Frères Montfortains de Saint-Gabriel convent, in Kiovu, to visit their biogas installation. A local company, whose creator acquired biogas expertise at the KIST, built this installation three years ago. 

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The Frères Montfortains de Saint-Gabriel convent, in Kiovu, Kigali.

Beside the residence, there is a small barn where two cows help produce the needed waste to run the biodigestors. The cow dung (in the amount of about seven wheelbarrow per day) is mixed with water and introduced in a cement inlet in the ground. 

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A barn sits in the backyard of the convent. 

The mixture then makes its way into one of the three biodigestors, located under the soil, where it ferments and produces a mix of methane, carbon dioxide and other gases.

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The biodigestor is a dome built under the ground.

The gas is then channeled through a pipe that runs all the way to the kitchen, where it can be connected to stoves like this one. The cook explained that the biogas installation supplies enough gas to prepare all the meals for the brothers, as well as for the sisters living in a nearby convent.

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The Ministry of Infrastructure also launched a national domestic biogas program in 2006, which aims to install biogas installations in 15,000 households by 2011. Already, 400 biodigestors have been installed and a new line of credit will soon be available for farmers who also want to switch from fuel wood to biogas. 

I prepared this radio documentary (French) that takes a deeper look at this domestic biogas program, its impacts on the environment as well as on family finances.

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Radio Documentary

Credits:

Music by Chad Crouch


Jul 27

 

andreanne_blog Andréanne Baribeau

Rwanda is currently in the midst of its hottest and driest season of the year. For the population of this landlocked country, accessing clean, drinkable water can be a daily struggle. I visited the district of Rubavu, in the Western Province, to study the water situation in rural areas. I prepared this audio slideshow (in French).


Jul 15

 
 

andreanne_blog Andréanne Baribeau

When I first arrived in our house in Kigali, I was delighted to see that I would be able to take showers that are pretty much equivalent to the ones I take back home.

Located in the Kimihurura neighbourhood, our house is equipped with impressive water pressure and as long as the power doesn’t run out, we can take nice hot showers. We also boil our tap water, filter it through this big metallic container, and store it in the fridge. So a cold, clean drink of water is never out of reach.

But last Thursday, as I was out covering the recent water shortages in the Gisozi neighbourhood, I realized that not everyone in Kigali shares our luxury.

When I arrived on site at around 5 p.m., a crowd composed mainly of women and children was forming at a water point in Kinamba, located at the bottom of the Gisozi hill.


People lining up at one of the two water points in Kinamba.

The red dirt on the side of the road was getting muddy as residents filled up their yellow jerrycans with a hose that was passed from hand to hand.

I learned that most taps in Gisozi had been dry for the past three weeks. Some of these people were walking three to five kilometers everyday to come to Kinamba, where two water distribution points were set up as private ventures.

Some of the residents there estimated that about a thousand people had been coming to these water points everyday. Some were buying – and carrying – up to 6 jerrycans of water, each costing 20 Rwandan Francs (about 4 cents). A jerrycan holds about 20 liters of water.


The second water point in Kinamba. The crowd was composed mainly of women and children.

Other neighbourhoods in the city have also experienced water shortages during what is Rwanda’s hottest and driest season of the year.  

As I was coming back from Gisozi, my colleague from Radio 10 asked me if we experience similar water shortages in Canada. I had to think about this for a while.

The only image I had in my head was one of a former neighbour of mine in Ottawa, who would spend his Sunday mornings cleaning his driveway with his garden hose, under the burning sun.

I ended up responding something like “yeah, sometimes when it gets really dry in Ottawa, the city will ration our water usage. So for a couple of weeks, people may get fined for watering their lawn.”

I felt pretty lame.

Now, I try to take quicker showers.