World Bank funding will help restore degraded wetlands in the City of Kigali, the country’s environmental watchdog has said.
According to Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA), the unspecified funding will help restore Gikondo Industrial Zone which has increasingly been vacated by manufacturing plants.
Eng. Coletha Ruhamya, REMA director-general, was responding to The New Time’s enquiry on the way forward once all businesses in Kigali’s wetlands have relocated by the end of the month as per schedule.
Speaking during Monday’s news conference that attracted the Ministry of Infrastructure, the Ministry in charge of Emergency Management, City of Kigali, REMA, Rwanda Water Resources Board, Rwanda Meteorology Agency, among other agencies, officials announced that more activities are set to be relocated from the city wetlands and high-risk zones.
Ruhamya explained that the new wetlands use master plan will guide the rehabilitation of the degraded wetlands in the city.
At least 10.6 per cent of the country’s wetlands are in the City of Kigali. Yet, studies show that 50 per cent have lost their natural quality due to encroachment.
According to studies, the wetland cover in the capital decreased from 100 square kilometres down to 77 square kilometres.
The new wetlands use master plan shows that at least 15 square kilometres, accounting for 20 per cent of city wetlands, will be rehabilitated, while 29 per cent have been recommended for sustainable utilisation, 38 per cent for conservation, and the rest for recreational purposes.
According to the plan, Gikondo wetland will be the first to be restored under a joint project between the Government and the World Bank.
“The money is available but we are still counting the cost of implementation and will announce it soon…I can tell you that is a very big budget,” Ruhamya said without divulging details.
The project seeks to restore the ecological and hydrological functioning of the Gikondo and Nyabugogo wetland complex on over 500 hectares by providing a physical and biological rehabilitation plan under sustainable management.
She said that thorough studies on rehabilitation and cost of implementation of all other degraded wetlands across the capital city will be carried out before developing strategies for rehabilitation.
“The wetlands use master plan has shown what each wetland will be used for. We started with mobilising funds for rehabilitating the Gikondo wetland since it was the most degraded due to industrial activities,” added the REMA boss.
Kigali City Mayor, Pudence Rubingisa, said that, so far, 5,600 activities have been relocated while more than 1,000 other establishments are set to be relocated, including those in wetlands.
He named businesses such as garages, vehicle parks and factories.
Kigali’s biodiversity is decreasing more than ever due to degradation, activists say.
At least eight bird species, three mammals, two fish species, one amphibian and two reptile species in Kigali are endangered due to wetlands encroachment. Grey-crowned cranes have also been extinguished from wetlands among other species.
If nothing is done, environmentalists say this will lead to worse flooding, food insecurity, and severe water scarcity.