BURERA - Water levels have increased at Rugezi due to proper land management practices, including terracing, afforestation and strict observance of regulations on marshland management, authorities in Burera district have said.
Speaking to The New Times, the vice mayor, Joseph Zaraduhaye revealed that Rugezi swamp, which is approximately 6700 ha, had previously dried up due to overgrazing and poor drainage systems.
“Part of the land had been allocated to farmers, which ultimately led to deforestation along the hillsides. However, when a drainage channel was dug through the swamp, the water flow increased for 2 months, greatly boosting the water levels,’’ Zaraduhaye revealed.
Rugezi swamp, source of lakes Burera and Ruhondo, provides running water which is tapped at Ntaruka hydroelectric power plant, where half of the country’s supply of electricity is generated.
“The rise in the water level is mainly attributed to a massive campaign aiming at changing the mindset of residents with respect to environmental conservation,’’ Zaraduhaye added.
Nkezabera Corme, the District Environmental Officer, reported that farmers are now observing some of the new measures put in place such as avoiding to encroach on the banks of the lakes.
“This area (Rugezi swamp) had dried completely in 2003; some of the returnees had been allocated part of the swamp for cultivation and grazing. As a result, the area became bare. However, we have managed to reverse the situation,’’ Nkezebera said.
The authorities revealed that at least 4000 ha of terraces have been created along the steep slopes in sectors adjacent to the swamp and the lakes, an initiative that is responsible for better soil management.
“We now understand the value of environmental management; we adopted the zero grazing method, for which we now have direct and indirect returns, because the natural resources are being preserved,’’ said Bosco Maniraguha, a resident of Kinyababa sector.