Over 6,500 activities evicted from Kigali City wetlands. What next?
Sunday, December 20, 2020
Workers demolish a warehouse in the former industrial area in Gikondo, Kicukiro District. The report shows that 557 out of 562 activities in the district have been evicted.

Different partners have embarked on mobilization of funds to restore the large swathes of wetlands recently recovered after being encroached by different human activities.

The City of Kigali, Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA) as well as the Ministry of Trade and Industry embarked on cracking down on 7,222 activities that encroached wetlands across the city.

Nadine Umutoni Gatsinzi, the Vice Mayor of City of Kigali in charge of Socio-economic Affairs told The New Times that at least 6,515 activities have so far been evicted from city wetlands.

She said that the biggest number of evicted encroachers was in Gasabo District, where 4,787 activities were removed from wetlands. The district in total had 5,072 activities in wetland.

The report shows that 557 activities of 562 in Kicukiro District were evicted while 1, 171 activities out of 1,588 in Nyarugenge District were also removed.

"Residential houses make 82.6 percent of all activities that were evicted from wetlands,” she said.

The initial survey by REMA had found that 78.9 percent of 7,222 illegal activities in wetlands were residential homes, 9.44 per cent were commercial houses, and 2.85 per cent were livestock activities while 3.18 per cent were mixed commercial and residential activities.

The survey indicated that approximately 55 per cent of the activities didn’t have any legal documents that authorize them to do so.

According to survey, dubbed "Wetlands Biodiversity and Ecological Integrity Assessment”, conducted by Albertine Rift Conservation Society (ARCOS Network) over 40 per cent of wetlands have lost their quality due to encroachment and therefore eviction was needed.

The surface area of wetlands in the City of Kigali has decreased from 100 square kilometers to 77 square kilometres.

Gatsinzi explained that evicted residential houses owners who were found without the means to build shelter for themselves in safe areas will be helped.

At least 2,068 families will be given new houses, she said.

Some wetlands to be restored soon

The New Times has learnt that the government has been mobilising funds to restore wetlands through different environment-friendly activities.

For example some wetlands such as Gikondo wetland (former industrial area) and Nyabugogo will be appropriated part of $175.45 million Second Rwanda Urban Development Project (RUDP II) funded by World Bank to strengthen integrated urban planning and management as well as climate resilience in the City of Kigali and the six secondary cities of Rwanda.

The funds were approved in October, 2020.

Business owners remove some of their properties from former Gikondo Industrial Park on June 18. / Photo: File

From the funding, $8.07 million grant will directly go to biodiversity protection and fighting climate change and land degradation.

However, officials from REMA told The New Times that feasibility studies are going to be carried to exactly know what these two wetlands will be used for.

Previously, officials at the environment body had said that among the activities being considered for the former industrial area included an artificial lake.

Wetlands recommended for rehabilitation in Kigali city are on 15 square kilometres which is 20 percent, while those recommended for sustainable utilisation make 29 per cent, wetlands for conservation make 38 per cent and the rest are recommended for recreation according to the ministry of environment.

"The implementation of the project funded by World Bank will start in January, 2021.We have not yet known specifically what those wetlands will be used for after evicting encroachers. The project is going to help us with feasibility studies for Gikondo wetland,” said Cyprien Ngendahimana, the communication specialist at REMA.

He said that REMA is in the process of recruiting a firm that will conduct the feasibility study for the rehabilitation of Gikondo wetland and Nyabugogo.

"The study will show us all needed solutions including mechanisms to reduce floods,” he said.

The project details indicate that part of the funding from the World Bank will be a grant while another part will be provided on credit.

It has three components; support to the City of Kigali, support to six secondary cities and institutional capacity development and project management.

For Kigali city, the project looks at integrated urban planning for resilient, inclusive infrastructure delivery, sustainable wetland management, flood risk management and greenhouse gas monitoring.

It also includes urban upgrading of unplanned resettlements, flood infrastructure (hotspots), storm water management master plan; water level monitoring and help in innovative financing for wetland sustainability.