UTN News

ENVIRONMENT CONSERVATION: RIVER RWIZI THREATENED

By Shamim Bataliwo

Leaders in Mbarara district are calling on the National Environment Management Authority - NEMA, to apply military strategies in protecting the Wetlands and save the only historical River Rwizi which si the only source of water in 9 districts.

The leaders are concerned about human activities and urban development in the wetlands along River Rwizi which have continued to destroy the River resulting into severe siltation and poor quality water.

This was raised during the assessment of the environmental conditions in the River Rwizi, focusing the impacts of human activities in the districts of Mbarara, Sheema, Mitooma, Buhweju and Isingiro districts by NEMA Board.

River Rwizi flows through 9 districts providing water to communities for both human use and animals.

Siltation due to erosion is rampant, gold mining using mercury, the use of chemicals to dry wetlands for farming, deforestation, over harvesting of wood and the uncontrolled bush burning; all these have contributed to the degradation of the ecosystems, leaving R. Rwizi bare and severely silted.

NEMA Board members expressed concern over the destruction of River Rwizi saying most livelihoods depend on it and now wonder as to what the root cause of the problem could be.

Byte: MUHANGI ASAPH LC V CHAIRMAN MBARARA DISTRICT Byte: JECONIOUS MUSINGWIRE NEMA FOCAL PERSON SWR MBARARA

The Mbabara district Chairman , Muhangi Asaph sounded seemingly disturbed by such continuous wetland challenges and suggests that NEMA applies Military strategies if they are to save the historical river, saying the military never fails in executing their duties.

Byte: MUHANGI ASAPH LC V CHAIRMAN MBARARA DISTRICT

Muhangi also says NEMA should emulate the Uganda National Road Authority - UNRA by planting pillars to mark the boundaries of wetlands to avoid encroachment. Byte: MUHANGI ASAPH LC V CHAIRMAN MBARARA DISTRICT

Environmentalists like Prof. Eri Sabit, a NEMA Board Member shares with us his experience about R. Rwizi that he says it was a wonder with a lot to enjoy, but now saddening. Byte: PROF. ERI SABIT NEMA BOARD MEMBER

The Chairman NEMA Board Prof. Nyeko Pen-Mogi is concerned that the destruction of River Rwizi may not only affect the water flow but also the failure to conserve this River Rwizi might result into human suffering. Byte: PRO. NYEKO PENY MOGI CHAIRMAN NEMA BOARD

But the Mbarara leadership has already registered some success in saving the river, from encroachers who had destroyed Nyakambu – Kooga

Wetland in Maseruka sub county Sheema and Bukiru in Mbarara districts.

NEMA, working together with district leaders recovered 118 acres of the wetland that leads a river channel from Buhweju district. The success to restore this wetland was a result of sensitization of the community about the importance of the wetland, and empowering them to take charge in protection.

These were also encouraged to do income generating activities with support from Revolt, GIZ, National Water and Sewerage Corporation and NEMA to provide alternatives for livelihoods.

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