17 December 2012

Rwanda: Water Experts Blame Pollution On Poor Land Use

Poor waste management in Musanze district has left water sources in the area polluted, Young Water Professionals, an umbrella organisation of water professionals and students below the age of 35, has said.

Speaking to The New Times, the forum's members, Marie Yvonne Ingabire and Umaru Garba Wali said poor water management and uncontrolled human activities along River Mukungwa have left the source highly degraded.

The duo blamed the materials released from Ruhengeri hospital, Ruhengeri Prison and various car-washing points in Musanze town for the pollution of the river.

"There is very low concentration of total suspended solids detected in the upstream. This may be due to sediments in Burera and Ruhondo lakes and low water velocity .The high concentrations detected downstream were suspected to be caused by agricultural activities and run off from high hills in the area," Ingabire said.

They say River Mukungwa is polluted in terms of measured physical and chemical parameters. The high concentration was detected generally in the downstream. The high average concentration was detected in the upstream. These are suspected to be caused by the nature of the soil type in the area, types of crops grown as well as the use of fertilisers in agricultural activities.

The duo appealed to the government to control industrial and domestic wastes.

They recommended construction of terraces on steepy slopes, use of anti-erosive ditches, reforestation mainly on very steeply slope areas, creation of sedimentary basins as well as use local manure (organic manure).

The Rwanda state of Environment and outlook report 2009 also indicated that water resources have been subjected to heavy and unchecked pollution as most of the untreated waste (both domestic and industrial) is directly deposited into sources.

"This unchecked pollution has considerably contributed to the deterioration of water resources in the Gikondo, Nyabugogo and Nyabarongo marshlands in Kigali.

Other sources of pollution include the use of agricultural inputs such as industrial fertilisers, pesticides or herbicides," noted the document.

The report suggested that to address the problem of water pollution, there is a need to establish standards and regulations to control industrial waste.

According to the report, efforts should be made to implement cleaner production methods for all industries and this could preferably be coupled with the 'polluter pays' principle that will ensure that all polluting industries take responsibility of their actions and take on a more positive role towards the reduction of pollution of water resources and the environment as a whole.

It calls for sufficient facilitation of relevant institutions like REMA, the Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority and the Rwanda Bureau of Standards with equipment and the resources to monitor the enforcement of the regulations.

Mukungwa is located in the Northern Province of Rwanda. The researchers said the main objective of their study was to assess the pollution level of Mukungwa River and to determine whether the water of Mukungwa River meets the WHO and Rwandan drinking water quality standards, including aquatic water quality standards in term of the measured parameters.

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