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Human Activity Threatens Kangiri Wetland

The wetland, which borders the districts of Mbarara and Sheema, feeds into Kooga, another wetland and Rwizi River, the main source of water for thousands of people in Mbarara, Sheema and Isingiro districts.

Audio 2

Environmentalists and local leaders in Kashari, Mbarara are angered by the increased human activity on Kangiri wetland in Rushenyi cell, Bukiiro Sub County.

The wetland, which borders the districts of Mbarara and Sheema, feeds into Kooga, another wetland and Rwizi River, the main source of water for thousands of people in Mbarara, Sheema and Isingiro districts.

Several acres of the swamp were recently cleared for farming activities. The farmers have constructed channels through which water flows into the gardens as opposed to feeding the rest of the ecosystem.

Maurice Turyahirwa, one of those who have encroached on the wetland says they were attracted by the nutritional value of the land which has boosted their productivity. But the destruction of the Wetland has had drastic effects on the quality and levels of water in River Rwizi, putting at risk the lives of  the population that get water through the national grid.

Julius Kato an environmentalist told our reporter that they are disturbed by the laxity of the local authorities in stopping the encroachers.  He says that the matter has been brought to the attention of Mbarara Resident District Commissioner after the local leaders told him that they were unable to do anything about it.

Kato is concerned that people are planting eucalyptus trees and food crops in the swamps which have led to the drying up of some of the water sources.

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Innocent Rwambarara, the village chairperson for Rushenyi cell in Nyarubungo Parish, says the locals are ignorant of the consequences of degrading the environment. He is appealing to the National Environment Management Authority-NEMA, to move in and ensure that the wetland is restored.

Mbarara resident district commissioner Captain Martha Asiimwe describes the development as unfortunate.

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Jeconius Musingwire, an official from National Environmental Management Authority appealed to locals to always respect protected areas or stand to lose their gardens.

A number of wetlands in Ankole sub region have been depleted in the past. They include the wetlands of Nyabihoko, Kamira, Kyangara, Kakingora-Rufuha, Charubuta -Kashojwa, Chamwasha, Kabobo - Riero - Bizi and Kacwamba - Kakitumba. Most of these navigate through the districts of Ntungamo, Mbarara and Isingiro, draining into Lake Victoria and River Kagera.

Last year, a serious food crisis was experienced in the district of Isingiro district coupled with absence of animal feeds that led to loss of animals while other locals were forced to move to neighboring Tanzania.

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