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Rwanda: sowing seeds for the future

22-02-1995 News Release 8

Having helped more than 70,000 needy families, the ICRC's vast seed distribution programme in Rwanda will come to a close at the end of February. The programme has covered 18 communes, mostly in the south-west of the country, where families are especially vulnerable. Many lost everything during the conflict last year and some of those who fled are now returning home empty handed except for what they have received from the ICRC and other humanitarian relief agencies.

Each family is given 13 kg of bean, 2 kg of maize and 3 kg of soya seed, and a ration of maize, beans and oil so that the seed will not be eaten. More than 80% of the Rwandan population live from agriculture, and seed distributions are vital if these people are to become self-sufficient again.

The ICRC relief administrator, Konrad Fisler, who coordinates the distribution of this much-needed assistance in eight communes near the Burundi border, is pleased with the people's positive spirit: " We unload at the sites and oversee the distribution itself, but it is the local farmers who work things out between themselves. The community is coming back together again for the first time since the war ... "

During the previous distribution in January, the ICRC provided families with vegetable and sorghum seed, as well as hoes. According to Hans Peter Giess, the ICRC agronomist on the spot: " Now these people can support themselves and maybe our seed donations will serve as an incentive for the displaced population to return home from the camps! "