As part of a wider initiative to conserve the heavily degraded Lake Victoria basin, the government has earmarked over Rwf 160m for removing water hyacinth. The weed has eaten up a number of lakes in the basin.
The money which was channelled through the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources has already been disbursed to various districts with lakes infested by the dangerous weed.
In an interview the former State Minister in charge of Environment and Mines, Vincent Karega, (now Minister of Infrastructure) underscored the urgency with which water hyacinth needs to be eradicated.
“REMA and the local authorities did an impressive job in increasing the water levels, especially in Cyohoha. They should now focus their efforts on having water hyacinth eradicated from the water,” he said
The Vice Mayor of Bugesera, Julius Rukundo, whose district is one of the recipients of the money to remove the weed from the district’s water bodies, noted that though there had been a delay in implementing the project months after his district received the 30 m Rwf fund, there won’t be any more excuses.
“We have been protecting this lake, we started with removing water hyacinth from Cyohoha north, and we are now involved in procedures to clear the southern part as well, we have the money and we hope to finish the job soon,” he promised
He pointed out as a challenge, the fast replication of the weed, resulting from the fact that neighbouring Burundi does not remove water hyacinth from their waters
“This gives us a hard time because the plant spreads from their water even after we have removed it,” he noted. Districts that are facing this problem in their lakes include Bugesera, Kayonza, Kirehe and Gatsibo; these have all been allocated money to fight the weed. Water hyacinth is fed by nutrients like fertilizers that accumulate in the water as a result of soil erosion. It affects the life of the biodiversity in the water like fish and other organisms.
The Lake Victoria Basin development vision focuses on having a prosperous population living in a healthy and sustainable managed environment, providing equitable opportunities and benefits to its communities.