Beginning next week, 93 islands on the scenic Lake Kivu will be surveyed by a team of experts in order to determine those to be conserved for environmental and touristic purposes and those to be used for human settlement. The survey is in line with the Government’s drive to conserve natural resources t at risk, such as forests.
This was revealed by Didier Sagashya of the Rwanda Natural Resources Authority, in an interview with The New Times yesterday.
“The exercise will be conducted by experts, officials from relevant fields, like the land centre, the tourism department in RDB, local leaders… with the purpose of identifying those to be conserved for environmental or tourism purposes and those for settlement and agriculture,” Sagashya explained.
The exercise will then proceed to other lakes in the country such as Burera and Ruhondo once the Lake Kivu survey is completed.
Sagashya, however, did not clearly explain the fate of the present residents of the areas to be chosen for conservation, although he talked about the possibility of expropriation.
In a separate interview, the Governor for the Western Province, Celestin Kabahizi, , added that “there are some parts of the islands that could be Government property, or were not acquired legally. That is what we will need to find out before we reach the stage of discussing the fate of the residents.”
Faustin Ahorukomeye, who owns farmland in Nyamunini Island of Lake Kivu, has urged the government to carry out the survey with fairness.
“We would also like to see this area developed, but the fear we have is that there might be some unfairness. For example, if expropriation occurs, they may not compensate us fairly for our land,” he said worriedly.
Kabahizi assured residents of the islands that the exercise would be fair. He noted that that the ongoing land registration would ensure proper demarcation of people’s property and give them land rights, which cannot be violated by anyone.