March 22, 2023


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Nile Basin Development Forum: Researcher reveals the must for wise use of Rweru Bugesera Transboundary Wetland

Experts have revealed that despite many economic benefits in Rweru Bugesera Transboundary Wetland between Rwanda and Burundi are not fully exploited.

This was revealed on Monday during a Nile Basin Development Forum webinar under the theme “Trans-boundary Wetlands Management” with the title “Economic Valuation of Wetlands Ecosystem Services” and was convened with the collaboration of UNEP-the Ecosystem Services Economic Unity

The Webinar focused on how valuation of wetlands and water related ecosystem services can be mainstreamed in the river basin planning as well as how ecosystem services can be mainstreamed in the Nile Basin investments agenda.

While presenting the findings of his study on Rweru Bugesera Trans-boundary complex on the economic Assessment of Biodiversity and Ecosystem services Prof. Herman Musahara, Associate Professor in the School of Economics College of Business and Economics at the University of Rwanda explained that “This wetland complex is shared between Rwanda and Burundi.”

He noted that “Rweru Bugesera is one of the sub-basin in Rwanda but it involves the lake Rweru, the lake Cyohoha.” Adding that the wetland is important because it is transboundary between the two countries and again its water drains into river Nile after feeding water in Akagera and in Lake Victoria and then later to the Nile river.

Even if it is relatively small compared to other wetlands you can see that the number of people who may use the wetland is not very small.

Economic activities include fishing and water hyacinths that are used to produce handcrafts materials such as baskets.

Despite being a threat to aquatic species, “The Water hyacinths are used for economic purposes. We have women cooperative producing baskets and there were some trials to see if we can produce some fertilizers but we are not yet to get really tangible results…” Prof. Herman said.

However, in that sub-basin also there is issue of degradation originating from erosion that dirties Akanyaru water and the problem is on the hills in both Rwanda and Burundi where a lot of soils are washed into the river.

Tourism potential not fully exploited

Prof. Herman noted that there are potentialities of tourism like birds watching. In that area there are of course other tourism activities that are prominent in Rwanda and Burundi but “this has not been exploited with regards to the area.” He revealed

According to available data and information, Transboundary wetland of Rweru Bugesera cost of degradation is estimated above $ 27.6 MILLION which is about 1.6 percent of the GDP of the two countries and the value of Ecosystem services of the Rweru Bugesera Wetlands is about USD 124,098,826.

“Looking ahead we will have the Business as usual case scenarios, the worst case scenarios and the best case scenarios. In development Interventions, there should be wise use of lakes and rivers, protection, restoration and conservation of strategic areas in Rweru Bugesera transboundary wetland, promotion of green water infrastructure development, Governance and enabling drivers of sustainable development.” He said

“The issue here is departing from business as usual to business as unusual and taking steps may be not perhaps holistic and global for all of them but in a manner that is forward looking and in a manner that favours wise use and sustainable management of the wetland.” He highlighted during his presentation.

 “Choice is between linear development and the best case scenarios as a way forward to wise use. The best choice would embrace sustainable management of Ecosystems in the medium and long-term period.” Mr. Musahara mentions as he concludes his presentation.

Ange de la Victoire Dusabemungu

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