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A look back at the 2018 Water week: Making Nature work for Water

 

Every year, Rwanda joins the world to mark World Water Day (WWD) which is celebrated on 22nd March. In a bid to raise awareness among the public about nature-based solutions to address water challenges and showcase the importance of water resources protection as well as benefits of sustainable use of Rwanda’s water resources, the Government of Rwanda through the Ministry of Environment/ Rwanda Water and Forestry Authority celebrated WWD in week long events.

Media Tour

Ahead of the water week events which kick off 18th to 24th March 2018, Rwanda Water and Forestry Authority (RWFA) organised a two-day media tour to Upper Nyabarongo catchment to highlight the main issues faced by River Nyabarongo and how these issues can be addressed.

The Head of the Water Resources Management Department in RWFA, Francois Tetero, held a press briefing with the journalists and mentioned that the river has issues related to siltation mainly due to unsustainable mining activities and poor agriculture practices.

Journalists were able to see first-hand the effects of these activities on water resources and discussed how best these can be dealt with to improve the quality of water for the River. Over 25 journalists from various media houses including Rwanda Broadcasting Agency, The New Times, Umuseke.com, Kigali Today, Focus Africa and Igihe.com among others attended and interacted with residents in Upper Nyabarongo catchment.

The media also visited the Nyabarongo 1 Hydro Power plant as well as the projects under implementation to rehabilitate the catchment through the Water for Growth Program in Mushishiro sector.

“The role you play in sensitising the public about good water resource protection practices is very important. The public must know that controlling soil erosion is the responsibility of every one and by doing so the water quality in our rivers and lakes will be improved”. Tetero explained to the media.

A Walk for Water was organized on Car free Day where Rwanda’s Minister of Environment Dr. Vincent Biruta took the opportunity to raise awareness on the 2018 theme “Nature for Water”

Walk for Water

As part of the efforts to increase sensitisation of the World Water Day activities, a walk for water event was planned to take place on 18th March 2018 on Car free sports Sunday. In collaboration with the Kigali City Authorities, the event attracted over 6,000 participants who walked from Remera, Kigali car free zone and from Kanogo-Kiyovu to the Rwanda Revenue Authority grounds in Kimihurura.

Speaking at the event, the Hon. Minister of Environment, Vincent Biruta, highlighted the importance of celebrating the World Water Day. He emphasised the need for concerted efforts to protect Rwanda’s water resources.

“During the water week, we are reminded to use available water resources appropriately and ensure sustainability. Let us play our part and not waste these resources. If we do not control erosion, it affects our rivers and lakes. Our daily activities should put into consideration water resources protection,” Dr. Vincent Biruta said. The Walk for Water was the official launch ceremony for the Water week 2018.

Annual IWRM conference

Since 2016, Rwanda holds a Conference on Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) to highlight research and progress being taken by various players in the water sector to promote IWRM.

The annual conferences serve as key platforms especially for students to learn about innovations in water resources management and what needs to be done to register more progress in managing this vital resource.

This year, a two day conference was held at the University of Rwanda, College of Science and Technology. Over 300 participants were present at the conference and visited stands of exhibitors in the water sector who were present at the same site.

Speaking at the official opening of the conference, the Ambassador of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Rwanda, Frederique de Mann said that the Water for Growth Rwanda programme is a good example of home grown solutions in Rwanda.

“Last week, Water for Growth Rwanda approved IWRM packages worth 50billion Rwf. We have 10 billion Rwf already in the fund and the Netherlands is studying how to contribute to land restoration.”

The conference held on 20th and 21st March focussed on catchment planning and degraded watersheds restoration. It was hosted by the Ministry of Environment, Rwanda Water and Forestry Authority and the University of Rwanda. Topics included; Sustainable flood control, Groundwater recharge as one of the sustainable solution to Integrated Water Resources Management and determinants of Rice farmers’ willingness to pay for irrigation water in Rwanda among many topics.

World Water Day 22nd March 2018

On 22nd March, Rwanda joined the rest of the world to celebrate the World Water Day. The day was commemorated in Kanama sector in Rubavu District in the Northwest part of the country.

Government officials were present at the celebration which started with a community work during which government officials, development partners and local community placed sandbags and planted trees along Sebeya river banks to control the river flow which has caused disastrous flooding in the recent past days.

Speaking at the event, the Director General of Rwanda Water and Forestry Authority, Prime Ngabonziza, requested the population to play their role in the sustainable management of water and forests by also abiding to the rules and guidelines put in place to safeguard the environment.

“We are here to celebrate the International World Water Day. I would like to use this opportunity to request you to join the cause and protect our water resources and forests. The Government of Rwanda and partners are here to work together to protect our environment. So, let us all commit to make our environment a better place to live and for future generations.” Ngabonziza said.

The DG was representing the Hon. Minister of Environment to the event.

Minister Biruta also took to twitter and shared a message saying, “Happy World Water Day! Efficient water management is essential for Rwanda’s sustainable development and our ability to respond to climate change. I encourage us all to support nature’s role in water resource management by protecting riverbanks and lakeshores and stopping erosion.”

Jan Vlaar, the First Secretary of the Embassy of the Kingdom of Netherlands, a country that supports the Government of Rwanda through Water for Growth Program, highlighted the commitment of the Netherlands in helping Rwanda to find long-term solutions to good catchment management as well as landscape rehabilitation.

“The Kingdom of the Netherlands is committed to the protection and development of the Sebeya River and the wider catchments of Rwanda for many years to come.” Jan Vlaar said.

The Government of Rwanda is looking for a long-term solution to prevent extreme flooding that arises from Sebeya River, which has threatened to cause enormous damages including loss of lives.

Officials say a study will soon be conducted by a team of experts to come up with comprehensive measures to mitigate the impacts of flooding along Sebeya river.

The theme for this year’s World Water Day is Nature for Water.

During the Water week, a famous water song Amazi Ni Meza by brothers Gerard Shyaka and Jean de Dieu Iryamukuru was officially launched. The song highlights the key issues related to good water resources management and calls upon the public to address the challenges and use water resources efficiently and sustainably.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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