Building wealth from waste; women initiative in biodiversity conservation!
The Akanyaru wetlands are among Rwanda’s Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs); which are globally, regionally and nationally significant sites for the conservation of birds and biodiversity. Unfortunately, the Akanyaru wetlands ecosystem is invaded by Water Hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes) and it is losing some of its potential biodiversity which contribute to the wellbeing of local community who depend on the Akanyaru wetlands’ nature resources.
|Keywords||Conservation, water hyacinth,|
The Akanyaru wetlands are among Rwanda’s Important Birds and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs); which are globally, regionally and nationally significant sites for the conservation of birds and biodiversity. Unfortunately, the Akanyaru wetlands ecosystem is invaded by Water Hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes) and it is losing some of its potential biodiversity which contribute to the wellbeing of local community who depend on the Akanyaru wetlands’ nature resources.
Introduced for ornament purpose and later became invasive alien species, Water Hyacinth is destroying biodiversity and causing negative impacts on aquatic species (carp species: Ctenopharyngodon idella and Varicorhinus platystomus). In fact, water hyacinths reduce water flow, block sunlight and starve water oxygen. Local community depending on nature resources, from Akanyaru wetlands have noticed the decreasing of wetlands’ resources.
The community of Musenyi Sector in the East of Rwanda depending on resources from Akanyaru wetlands joint hands in removal of Water Hyacinth in Akanyaru wetland. Gathered in KOSUMU (Cooperative Sugira Musenyi), a Site Support Group (SSG) engaged in conservation of Birds and Biodiversity of Akanyaru; they are contributing to the restoration of the ecological niche. “This solution was time consuming but sustainable. Therefore, as women we realized that we should use those waste as raw material to generate incomes for our families… The idea was simple but required adequate skills; dry water hyacinths, prepare them and make handcraft” Quoting Nyiraneza.
As simple as was the idea, they had to develop skills and adequate knowledge in the new sector. To insure the implementation of such innovative solution towards biodiversity conservation, Rwanda environment Management Authority (REMA) trained members of KOSUMU. They gained more trainings and exchange visits through BirdLife’s Jensen Funded regional project on “Empowering local communities for the conservation and sustainable development of the birds and biodiversity of the Lake Victoria Basin, the Greatest of Africa’s ‘Great Lakes’ implemented by Association pour la Conservation de la Nature au Rwanda (ACNR).
Passionate about their new work, women continue to improve and produce awesome handcraft products. Handmade and beautiful products, their handcrafts attract more customers. The increasing of demand resulted in average cost. This handcraft making activity contributes to the functioning of local economy while increasing the incomes of cooperative family members. They produce bags, hats and related handcrafts items which cost approximately 2 USD each. They also make tables at affordable prices.
Linking nature resources management and sustainable development, wise conservation of biodiversity has the positive impacts not only to biodiversity but as well to the people contributing to biodiversity conservation. It is one of the skills and knowledge to domesticate and to improve. Human kind interacts with nature but their innovations will guarantee its bright future.
Editor: Prudence Ndabasanze, LVB Project coordinator, ACNR
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