The Diocese of Rulenge-Ngara is situated in the North - Western corner of Tanzania within Kagera Region, covering an area of 13,004 km² out of 40,838 km² Kagera Region.The Diocese Borders with the countries of Rwanda in West, Burundi in South, to the east are the shores of Lake Victoria and Muleba District. The diocesan headquarters including the Bishop’s House are situated in Ngara, 45 km from Rulenge Pro-Cathedral.
The diocese covers a geographical area of three administrative districts of Ngara, Biharamulo and Chato. It is divided into three ecclesiastical deaneries of Ngara, Biharamulo, and Chato with a 300,000 catholic population and15 parishes. (Source: Rulenge-Ngara Diocesan Pastoral reports 2007).
Socio- economic and Political situation
Kagera region is the remotest part of the country from Dar es Salaam industrial and administrative centre, the region is cut off to the east by Lake Victoria and therefore the access overland to the rest of Tanzania is restricted to the region’s southern border.
Transport and communication systems have generally been very poor and unreliable. Apart from the trunk tarmac road that runs from Isaka in Kahama District within the Shinyanga Region through Biharamulo and Ngara districts to Burundi and Rwanda, most of the road network is poor especially in the rural areas. This leads to poor and inadequate public transport in rural areas especially during rainy seasons. The whole of the Diocese is affected by this situation.
The economy is therefore cut-off from important markets and units of processing. Commodity distributions as well as social services delivery to the villages are in place but to a limited extent.
Agricultural production is the main economic activity carried out by the people in this area, it engages about 90% of the region’s population in the production of food and cash crops.
Male-headed households operate 86% and 14% of the planted areas is operated by female-headed households.
Agricultural production is predominantly subsistence farming under rain fed conditions. Major crops grown for local consumption are: bananas, beans and maize. The cash crops include cotton, tobacco and coffee. Livestock keeping is the second most important economic activity.
The region is one of the moderately populated in the country; the growth rate per year is 3.1% with an average of 5.2 persons at household level. The negative impacts of HIV and AIDS have caused an increase in orphans and also in the dependency ratio. The number of persons depending on the work of one adult has increased to three (1:3).
Formal employment is very limited. Manufacturing industry is almost non-existent as a result of poorly developed infrastructure. Also, there is an inadequate role of private sector in cash crops development.
Mining is at present, not developed though there are prospects for exploration in Ngara District. In Biharamulo district the mining is in operation.
The political situation within the region is stable despite the multi - party system being practiced in Tanzania. There is a good collaboration and co-operation between the Government and Faith Based Organizations.
According to the National Census of 2002 the Rulenge-Ngara Diocese is a home of 748,384 Inhabitants with the intercensal growth rate (1988 – 2002) of 3.1% per year with an average household size of 5.2 persons. The main ethnic groups living in this area include the Bahangaza - (Ngara), Basubi ( Biharamulo) and the Basukuma - (Chato). Other small ethnic groups include baha, haya, sumbwa, jita and zinza among others.
Source: The United Republic of Tanzania, 2002 Population and Housing Census
The climatic conditions of Rulenge-Ngara Diocese are diverse depending on the physical features of each district.
Biharamulo district has bimodal rainfall type whose precipitation is variable across the area which is very reliable for agriculture. The total annual rainfall ranges between 800mm to 1000mm. Rainfall distribution in the district is such that the eastern part receives lowest rains which are erratic in nature. Less rain in this area is attributed to increased deforestation activities over the years. The western part receives more rainfall of at least a minimum of 900mm. Maximum and minimum temperatures are 26.6 ˚C and 30.5˚C respectively. In terms of wind speed the areas along the shores of Lake Victoria have higher wind speed than others areas in the district due to forest clearing. At the same time Biharamulo has about 12 hours of clear sunshine because sunrise and sun set is between 06.45 – 19.00 hours respectively.
Biharamulo district is divided into two main agro-ecological zones, namely: -
Southern zone (based on the zonation of the former Biharamulo district before division into newly established Chato district).
The southern zone (166,100 ha) is situated between 1,100 and 1,400 m elevation and it borders Ngara, Kibondo and Bukombe districts. It includes the Uha sandstone area with its lower and higher plains and moderately high hill and plateau landscapes.
Chato district receives areasonable amount of rains ranging between 700- 1000 mm. Tthe rains makes it possible for the district to produce a range of crops, both cash and food crops. Maximum and minimum temperatures are 26.6 ˚C and 30.5˚C respectively. In terms of wind speed the areas along the shores of Lake Victoria have higher wind speed than others areas in the district due to forest clearing. At the same time Chato has about 12 hours of clear sunshine because sunrise and sun set is between 06.45 – 19.00 hours respectively.
Ngara District is featured by two main zones namely the hilly highlands of Bugufi that constitute about 30% of the entire district and the extensive, lower altitude, drier and hilly of Bushubi areas. The district has an annual rainfall pattern ranging between 800mm to 1400mm which falls between September and May with peaks in October and March to April.
Bushubi area is often dry and receives rainfall between 650mm to 1000mm, which is spread over a period of six months from March to May and from September to December. The rest of the months are dry. The average temperature is 27°C.