A six million euro mega project has been unveiled with the aim of protecting wetlands considered crucial for the survival of rive Nile, the world’s longest river.
Dubbed the Nile Basin Transboundary Wetlands project, the lives of surrounding communities and hence the wider community of the Nile Basin.
The project comes thanks to the efforts of Dr. John Rao Nyaoro, the outgoing Executive Director of the Nile Basin Initiative and his team but more so perhaps by the generous support of the Germany government through its Ministry for International Cooperation (GIZ)
Launched in Entebbe a few days ago, the Nile Basin Transboundary Wetlands project is a timely project following the end of the World Bank’s trust that supported most projects for nearly ten years.
The project is seen as a timely rescue effort for several wetlands in the Nile basin initiative where wetlands face widespread encroachment on the invaluable natural habitats that are considered vital for human survival through direct and indirect benefits through agriculture as well as providing a shelter biodiversity.
The outgoing Executive Director of the NBI Secretariat, Dr. Nyaoro, said the Nile Basin is endowed with rich and diverse wetlands crucial for the provision of multiple ecosystem services and goods, which are beneficial to livelihoods of its citizens, economies and associated ecosystems.
He cited water purification and supply, climate regulation, flood control and tourism as some of the benefits of wetlands. However, most wetlands, he observed, are facing serious degradation pressures in form of human settlements, agricultural activities, urbanisation, over-exploitation and climate change.
Dr. Nyaoro said the project will benefit communities in all the ten member countries of the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) by supporting enhanced livelihoods security, improved adaptation to climate change through ecosystem based adaptation.
Although the project will focus on saving transboundary wetlands or wetlands of transboundary importance such as the vast Sudd mashes of Sudan Sudan that stretch as far as 200 miles, environmentalists from across all ten NBI member countries held deliberations on how to save other wetlands that may not come under the project.
Several participants cited the need to develop and implement community-led wetland management plans as one of the avenues through which wetlands can be sustainably managed.
From the flow of discussions, Uganda appeared to have developed a successful community-led wetland management plan. According to Lucy Iyango, the Assistant Commissioner for Wetlands in charge of Wetland Assessment, her ministry has successfully restored over 80 formerly degraded wetlands in several parts of the country.
In an interview with The Sunrise, Iyango emphasised the need for community sensitization about the importance of wetlands.
Despite Iyango glowing description of the ministry’s work, wetlands across the country continue to face extreme pressure, almost similar to that facing forests .
According to Iyango, 13 percent of Uganda’s land surface is covered by wetlands but their impact in as far as supporting the livelihoods of people goes far beyond.