Rwanda celebrates World Wetlands Day to raise public awareness to relocate illegal activities from wetlands

Kigali, 31 January, 2019 - Rwanda celebrated World Wetlands Day on 31 January, 2019 in an event aimed to raise awareness to to relocate illegal activities from wetlands. This day is widely celebrated on 2nd February each year. This day marks the date of the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands on 2nd February 1971, in the Iranian City of Ramsar.

This year’s theme is ‘Wetlands and Climate Change. The theme aims at drawing attention to the vital role of wetlands as a natural mechanism to cope with climate change, one of the most pressing problems facing humanity and our planet.

Celebrating the day, Minister of Environment, Vincent Biruta highlighted the value of wetlands.
“Wetlands come in for solution acting as a natural mechanism in mitigation and adaptation to climate change effects by absorbing and storing carbon, reducing floods and storm surges, relieving droughts as well as protecting shorelines.

During rainy season, they absorb and store excess rainfall and release stored water during dry seasons in arid regions. Therefore, strategies that address climate change must include the wise use of wetlands”.

In the context of  the celebration of World Wetlands Day 2019 was a good opportunity for Rwanda to  raise awareness on wetlands protection and wise use by dedicating a whole week of activities (National Wetlands Week from 26th to 31st January 2019) aimed at ‘’relocating illegal activities from wetlands’’
 “we remind all citizens who still have illegal activities including infrastructures in the wetlands to relocate them in order to reduce water pollution and insure wetland function as natural mechanism in mitigation and adaptation to climate change.

This will help us achieve the environmental commitments enshrined in the National Strategy for Transformation (NST-1) targets and Vision 2050 aspirations, while fulfilling our international obligations”. Recalled by Vincent Biruta

Results from economic valuation conducted in Akagera Wetlands complex estimated the total economic value of this wetland at USD 12 million in annual flows. The wetland contributes to climate change mitigation through carbon sequestration and storage, moderation of extreme events such floods and droughts. The wetland contributes as well on climate change adaptation through provisioning of water for irrigation, which increases crop yields two to threefold, contributing to the well-being of domestic households and commercial enterprises (REMA/BIOFIN, 2019).

In the bid to wisely use of our wetlands, Government of Rwanda has put in place regulatory framework including Prime Minister’s Order N°006/03 of 30/01/2017 drawing up a list of wetlands and their management. Indeed, the law N°48/2018 of 13/08/2018 on Environment especially its articles N° 42, 47, 48, 49 and 60 show activities prohibited in wetlands and their related administrative fines.