News Rehabilitation of degraded lakes on course

Rwf176 million initiative to support cooperatives’ in income generating activities as motivation to rehabilitate degraded lakes in the Western Province of the country is bearing fruit, Vincent Biruta, the minister for Natural Resources has said.

Concerned URL http://www.newtimes.co.rw
Source The New Times of 9 January, 2016
Release date 18/02/2016
Contributor Lewis Mary Ndayisaba
Geographical coverage National,
Keywords Rehabilitation, degraded lakes,

While  touring the newly constructed road in the Western Province, the Ministry of Natural Resources assesed the progress made to restore degrades areas with particular emphasis on Lake Karago and River Nyamukongoro. The new Rusizi-Rubavu road caused environmental damages on L. Kivu shores. During the visit, the minister of Natural Resources urged cooperatives to maintain the rehabilitation efforts, and also fight encroachers who cut felling trees from the rehabilitated areas along water banks. He was accompanied by Dr Rose Mukankomeje, the Director General of Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA), local officials, and Lt. Gen Fred Ibingira, the Chief of Staff RDF Reserve Force, involved in conservation drives.

Conservation activities include terracing watershed and planting trees along the banks of River Nyamukongoro, one of the main tributaries that feed Lake Karago. The cooperative KOTUNYA was supported to carry out income generating projects, as part of motivational approach to conserve the lakes.

The cooperative is composed of ex-combatants and residents with 126 members that protect Lake Karago. The projects include fishing, piggery, agro-forestry and beekeeping around the lake in Mukamira sector. Others include brick laying, horticulture, and pyrethrum growing among others, helping members to improve their lives as well as eradicating malnutrition.

The lake had been degraded by erosion as the area is prone to flooding which has since 2013 attracted REMA’s attention to introduce forest and land restoration initiatives in the surrounding areas. It also worked with Rwanda Agriculture Board to introduce new species of fish. The rehabilitation works were supported under a programme dubbed Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF) Project, according to REMA. LDCF was established to address special needs of the poor countries under climate convention.

Speaking to The New Times, Venuste Kayumba the president of KOTUNYA, said the financial support has motivated members to conserve the lake. “Although turnover is not yet enough, there is progress across all our small projects. We planted trees and prepared terraces around the lake and now water is becoming clean again. Fish had been depleted but now new fish species are breeding as the second batch of funds has recently availed. We started by building infrastructure,” he said.

Kayumba said proceeds from growing pyrethrum have been used to build more ten houses for their piggery project which boasts of 113 animals from 21. He said with beekeeping, they started with 50 modern hives from which they will be harvesting honey in few coming days.

In Rubavu District, the officials toured similar initiatives to protect Lake Kivu shores, where COPPLAk cooperative was supported in fishing and fish sales as motivation to guard the shores. Residents were asked to maintain a radius of 50 meters from the shores before starting human activities. Meanwhile it was observed that environmental damages caused by Rusizi-Rubavu road construction affected Lake Kivu through landslides, erosion and pollution.

Biruta called upon the cooperatives to work with concerned institutions to carry out the rehabilitation works. Officials say several water catchment areas in both east and western provinces face similar degradation risks. The rehabilitation projects using the same approach therefore, cover areas along Lake Muhazi, Mugesera, Cyohoha in east, and Lake Karago and Kivu in the west.

REMA will for the next three years work with 10 cooperatives in Rusizi, Nyamasheke, Nyabihu, Karongi, Rutsiro, and Rubavu which have benefitted from a grant of Rwf131.8 million. Each cooperative received between Rwf6 million and Rwf6.5 million to boost their projects as motivation to rehabilitate the water catchment areas. The total project’s budget was Rwf176.8 million of which REMA’s support was Rwf131.8 million (66 per cent) and cooperative contribution is worth Rwf44.9 million (34per cent).

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