2 février 2016

Protect Wetlands to Sustain our Future Livelihoods

On the 2nd February every year, Rwanda joins the rest of the world to mark the World Wetlands Day to raise public awareness of wetland values and benefits. As we celebrate the day for this year, Rwanda is calling up on all citizens to wisely use wetlands for bright future of the country from which a good number of the population lives on farming.

Fondation St Dominique Savio values much protection of the environment and encourages all Rwandans to take care of green economy including wetlands celebrated today.

The benefits of wetlands are unlimited especially in Rwanda, relating them to the country’s life conditions. Wetlands have been recognized for water storage perspectives and purification ; providing natural sponges against river flooding or flood buffering, coastlines protection, fertile soils and erosion control and contribute much in climate change mitigation which all pay for increased productivity of agricultural sector.

Despite a great importance of wetlands in agricultural sector, REMA’s officials declare there are still some cases of malpractice and poor management of wetlands across the country. On a phone interview with Jean Pierre Bucyensenge, the communication specialist at REMA said : “Actually the law provides that 20 meters coastlines should be reserved from wetland while housing, but yet some people are still violating the law, others are polluting water of the swamp place, constructions in wetlands zones, and non-friendly agricultural activities”

Rwanda has enacted laws, regulations and orders with the intent to guarantee wetlands protection and has invested heavily in their protection and restoration. Mr. Jean Pierre Bucyensenge says the law applies on any illegal practice detected against wetlands conservation but insists much effort is put in sensitization not in punishment.

Dr. Rose MUKANKOMEJE, Director General of Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA) says thinking about growing population depending on agriculture, should be a must while celebrating Rwanda’s achievements in wetlands preservation and wise use.
"It is thus important for everyone to ensure that wetlands are protected so as to maximise benefits from these vital resources. We urge all citizens who still have constructions and other illegal infrastructures in the wetlands to relocate them in order to reduce and eventually stop wetlands degradation", Dr Mukankomeje said.

The for this year is : "Wetlands for our Future : Sustainable Livelihoods", the theme selected to demonstrate the vital role of wetlands for the future of humanity and specifically their relevance towards achieving the new Sustainable Development Goals.

Approximately 10, 6 per cent of the Rwandan surface area is covered with wetlands while over 90 Percent of Rwandans depends on agriculture, which usually put environmental resources under pressure of their day to day activities. Thus, more effort needed in sensitization to raise awareness among the community on the importance and better management of wetlands to sustain our future.