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Ecologists in Drive to Save River Rwizi from Silting

The recent past has seen an increase in the number of permanent houses, Car washing Bays and activities such as sand mining, brick laying and crop production on its river beds. Dr. Fredrick Muyondi the Coordinator, Lake Victoria Basin conservation project says the river is running dry and losing its water color as a result of pollution.

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Environmentalists are irked by the failure by Mbarara Municipal authorities to control developments on the banks of River Rwizi, the major source of economic activity across districts in South Western Uganda.

River Rwizi traverses through the districts of Rukungiri, Sheema, Bushenyi, Kiruhura, Ntungamo and Mbarara catchment that feeds into Lakes Nakivale and Mburo.  Lake Mburo finally drains into Lake Victoria.

But the recent past has seen an increase in permanent houses, Car washing Bays, sand mining activities, brick laying and crop production on its river beds. Water experts say Rwizi, which was previously the biggest river feeding Lake Victoria is drying up and has been reduced to a channel after years of environmental destruction.

Dr. Fredrick Muyondi the Coordinator, Lake Victoria Basin conservation project says the river is running dry and losing its water color as a result of pollution.

National Water and Sewerage Corporation –NWSC is already looking for an alternative source of water to supply Mbarara District because River Rwizi, the hitherto known source of water, has been heavily polluted by human activity which has raised the cost of treating water.

David Opoka, the NWSC General Manager for Mbarara area says the company spends over Shs15 million on treatment of the water consumed by more than 10,000 households in Mbarara Municipality alone.

Joseph Mwesigye, a former Environment Officer for Mbarara and Isingiro districts says unless the leadership of Mbarara municipality puts tough laws that punish people who carry out human activities on the banks of river Rwizi, the current level of silting will continue.

Mwesigye faults local authorities for continually getting revenue from people working across the river banks.

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However, as one way of reversing the situation, Makerere University has entered into a partnership with Bishop Stuart University in Mbarara to conduct extensive research on how to restore the degraded river Rwizi. The initiative will also involve a tree planting campaign to allow them plant trees along the river bed to prevent soil erosion.

The National Environment Management Authority–NEMA western region focal person, Jeconious Musingwire told URN that all efforts to stop all human activity in the 100m buffer zone has been frustrated by lack of support from political leaders.

Mbarara Municipal council resolved during the 2013/2014 financial year\'s to start evicting residents within the buffer zone. However no action has been taken todate.

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