ENVIRONMENT is very crucial to human livelihood that man-made activities should be made with a conscious for sustainability, Natural Resources minister Vincent Biruta has said.
Dr Biruta minister was speaking, yesterday, during celebrations to mark World Environment Day in Gakenke District in Northern Province where he participated in a special Umuganda activity along River Base.
The river is being protected under the Rwanda Environmental Management Authority’s project Lake Victoria Environmental Management Programme (LVEMP II).
The project is designed and implemented toward enhancing environmentally-friendly economic growth in the Basin through knowledge generation for development, socio-economic development, promotion of effective natural resources management framework, and enhancing public participation.
Biruta said protecting the environment should be the concern of every Rwandan because, when it deteriorates, the whole human kind is affected.
He said the country was committed to preserve the environment by protecting its rivers, fighting erosion, protecting forests and ensuring clean air as well as banning polythene bags.
“The vision we have is that everyone should understand the role of environment so that it is protected at all levels,” the minister noted.
He added that the role of environment should be taught at all school levels.
The minister hailed REMA projects such as LVEMP II and the Landscape Approach to Forest Restoration and Conservation (LAFREC), saying they not only protect the environment but also tackle issues affecting the people around the targeted places thus improving their lives.
LVEMP II is a five-year project funded by the World Bank that ends December.
According to the officials, over the recent past, 1.5 million agro-forestry trees and 362,000 bamboo trees were planted to protect riverbanks, mainly Nyabarongo, Rukarara, Mwogo, Mbirurume, Mashyiga, Yanze, Base and Kadahokwa.
Over 269.7 hectares of radical terraces, 4260.5 of progressive terraces and 459,452 fruit trees were also planted to stabilise terraces and improve nutrition.
The project is also involved in the protection of Rweru-Akagera Wetland Complex in Bugesera and Ngoma Districts at about 144 hectares.
According to Eng. Coletha Ruhamya, REMA’s director-general, the environment is currently faced with challenges such as population pressure and infrastructure development as well as farming activities, which calls for proper planning toward sustainable use.
“We need minerals and construction materials, but we also need to exploit them in a sustainable way because if the soil is polluted, it affects rivers and lakes, which are vital sources of water,” she said.
Leoncie Mukabera, one of the resident beneficiaries from the project, said they understand why they have to protect River Base whose banks are close to their plantations.
“We used to plant crops around the river but now we leave space of 10 metres to protect it. Thanks to protection of environment, our farm produce has increased,” she said.
The Environment Day, marked under the theme, “Connecting people to Nature,” featured awarding students and schools that performed well in environmental protection and exhibitions of products available due to efforts to protect the environment.