The Ministry of Natural Resources has launched a rehabilitation plan for some 138,452 hectares of upper Nyabarongo River catchment area.
While launching the project on Saturday at Mushishiro Sector in Muhanga District, Natural Resources minister Vincent Biruta said the plan will be implemented in Muhanga, Huye, Ruhango, Nyamagabe, Nyanza Ngororero, Rutsiro and Karongi districts.
“If Nyabarongo is not rehabilitated, it could trigger water shortage, affect the hydropower plant around it and other many related effects. Erosion muddied the water due to poor agricultural practices on surrounding hills. The project will solve this issue by planting protective trees, digging terraces, among other system to scheck erosion,” he said.
Soil washed away into River Nyabarongo due to erosion is also another natural resources element for agriculture that is lost by flowing into neighbouring countries, the minister said, adding that inappropriate mining in the catchments along the river also caused degradation.
He said the implementation requires collaboration with various institutions such as the mining and agricultural sectors, development partners, local leaders, as well as farmers with land on which the rehabilitation activities will be carried out.
The Head of Integrated Water Resources Management at the ministry, Vincent de Paul Kabalisa, said before designing the project, an assessment was conducted that showed that the main sources of pollution in the river was erosion.
“The initiative is closely working with miners in order to reduce dirty water draining into the river. The water used by miners will be recycled before it is let to flow into the river,” he said.
Kabalisa cited rivers such as Mwogo, Mbirurume, Secoko as the main polluted rivers that flow into Nyabarongo, adding that the catchment plans are also being designed and will soon be shared with all responsible districts to help them design projects to be funded.
“There are rehabilitation activities of retaining soil and water that are already being carried out along Nyabarongo hydropower. With support from The Netherlands, 1,104 hectares will be rehabilitated in Muhanga and Ngororero districts with terraces, reforestation, anti-erosion ditches, water drainage, agroforestry and others,” he said.
Kabalisa added that another Euro 18 million grant from the Dutch government will also fund restoration projects along Nyabarongo, Nyabugogo, Sebeya and Muvumba rivers.
So far, he said, 1.9 million farmers with land on Nyabarongo river catchment have been registered to be supported and collaborate in the project’s implementation.
The Dutch Ambassador to Rwanda, Frederique de Man, urged citizens to own the rehabilitation activities.
“Take care of agro-forestry, manage soil fertility so that agricultural productivity increases. This is what we call integrated approach. This will only succeed if there is collaboration,” she said.