Human Activity Threatens Ntungamo's Biggest Wetland

1714 Views Ntungamo, Uganda

In short
The wetland is a lifeline for communities in Nyabihooko, Nyabushenyi and Ruhaama Sub Counties and part of Isingiro district. But it is now covered in trenches, dug up by farmers who have started creating vegetable gardens, tree nurseries and rearing animals within the gazetted wetland area.

Rufuha wetland in Ntungamo district is under threat as more and more people encroach on the catchment area which drains into river Kagyera and connects to Lake Nyabihoko.

The wetland is a lifeline for communities in Nyabihooko, Nyabushenyi and Ruhaama Sub Counties and part of Isingiro district. But it is now covered in trenches, dug up by farmers who have started creating vegetable gardens, tree nurseries and rearing animals within the gazetted wetland area.

The activities are also threatening monkeys and rare birds which had found a home in the wetland. Observers have said that many farmers have opted to poison the animals and birds in order to keep them away from their crop gardens.

Edward Natamba, the executive director at South Western Institute for Policy and Advocacy says that the level of encroachment means that the wetland can no longer retain water. He says that the rate of encroachment may wipe out the entire area if unchecked.

James Rwakasore, a resident of Ruhaama Sub County is one of those who have gardens in the wetland but says that the biggest challenge is caused by wealthy farmers who are clearing the bigger section of the wetland.

Dr Peninah Beinomugisha, an environmentalist who also doubles as the director for Ab'endagaano Development Foundation, a community-based organization operating in Ntungamo district says that Rufuha wetland has been targeted from different fronts despite being a lifeline for millions of people.

She, however, adds that leaders and environmentalists are working out a strategy to evict all encroachers and ensure that the wetland is restored.
 
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Ntungamo District Senior Environment Officer Dinah Tumwebaze says that they are working with the civil society organizations in the area to control the depletion of natural resources in the area as well as the intensity of depletion in Rufuha wetland.
 
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Ntungamo district Deputy Chief Administrative Officer Leonard Ahimbisibwe observes an urgent need to protect the wetland from further destruction.
 
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About the author

Anthony Kushaba
For Anthony Kushaba, journalism is not just a job; it is a calling. Kushaba believes journalism is one of the few platforms where the views of the oppressed and margainalised can be heard. This is what his journalism aims to do: bring to light untold stories.

Kushaba is the Mbarara region URN bureau chief. Mitooma, Ntungamo, Bushenyi, Sheema, Isingiro, and Kiruhura districts fall under his docket. Kushaba has been a URN staff member since 2012.

Kushaba is a journalism graduate from Uganda Christian University Study Centre at Bishop Barham College in Kabale. Before joining URN, Kushaba worked with Voice of Kigezi (2008), Bushenyi FM (2010) and later on to Voice of Muhabura.

Kushaba's journalism interests centre on conflict, peace and electoral reporting. Kushaba occasionally writes on tourism, health, religion and education. He describes himself as highly driven and will pursue a tip until it yields a story.