Every year, Rwanda joins the world in commemoration of the World Wetlands Day (WWD), celebrated on 2nd February with the aim of raising public awareness on the value and benefits of wetlands.
At National level, this year’s WWD celebration will take place on 31st January 2019. This year’s celebration will be preceded by the “National Wetlands Week” running from 26th up to 31st January. The week will mainly focus on activities aiming at relocating illegal activities from wetlands, coupled with awareness raising on conservation, protection and wise use of wetlands.
WWD theme for this year is “Wetlands and Climate Change”. This theme is dedicated to raise awareness on highlighting the vital role of wetlands as a natural mechanism to cope with climate change.
In Rwanda, wetlands continue to play an essential role as valuable natural infrastructure for agriculture, carbon sinks , water purification, fertile soil and erosion control, floods buffering and as well as relieving droughts.
“Well managed wetlands ensure communities are resilient to climate change and disaster risks. I therefore call upon everyone to contribute and play upper role in preserving and protecting our wetlands for the common benefit of everyone” Says Eng. Coletha U. RUHAMYA, the Director General of Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA).
“Celebrating the world wetland day is then a good opportunity for Rwanda to build upon the achievements made in environmental conservation and protection especially in the effort of wise use of wetlands and restoration of degraded ones” adds the Director General.
Rwanda has 935 marshlands covering 10.6 percent of the Rwandan surface area as per the 2017 Prime Minister’s Order drawing up a list of swamp lands, their characteristics and boundaries and determining modalities of their use, development and management.
However, Rwanda celebrates the world wetlands day (WWD) while wetlands in the Country still face a lot of pressure especially with poor agriculture, extraction of sand and fabrication of construction bricks. Other illegal activities established in wetlands include farms, industries, garages and warehouses among others. For some others, wetlands are considered as dumping sites for various unused materials and wastes.
The celebration of world wetlands week is thus an opportunity to recall to all operators with illegal activities in wetlands to relocate them in order to realise their environmental benefits.