Rwanda: Farmers Relocated From 76-Hectare City Wetland

19 February 2020

Farmers who had been growing various crops in a 76-hectare wetland connecting the sectors of Kacyiru, Kimihurura and Remera in Gasabo district have been ordered to clear their agricultural activities within a week.

Over 100 varieties of vegetables were being grown in the area.

The wetland located in the area known as 'Kwa Nyagahene' is named after city businessman Eugene Nyagahene, who about 10 years ago, attempted to build a recreational park in the area but later abandoned the idea.

It stretches from right below parliament, King Faisal Hospital, and Kigali Golf Club as well as in Nyarutarama.

The area which is not reserved for agriculture is expected to be turned into a recreational park, including a man-made lake.

"We have been told to stop the activities within one week. I have been growing cassava, sweet potatoes, maize and beans in this wetland. Officials had given us favor to cultivate it but they told us that this is the time to stop exploiting it," said Christian Niyonsenga who lives near the wetland.

The relocation follows an ongoing exercise to remove illegal activities that have encroached the city’s wetlands.

On 31st January 2020, when Rwanda was celebrating wetlands Day, officials in the city of Kigali said they have relocated 5,632 activities out of 6,364 that were in wetlands and that the exercise continues.

Claudine Mbonampeka, The Executive Secretary of Kamukina cell which makes part of the wetland said that the area is not reserved for agricultural activities.

"The master plan shows that this wetland is not reserved for agriculture. It will be turned into recreational space as it is being done in Kimicanga," she said.

Jonas Shema, The Director of Good Governance in Gasabo District said activities to excavate sand from the wetland have also been suspended.

He said that even though farmers were exploiting the wetlands, there were no signed agreements for it.

"Many were growing vegetables there but others were excavating sand in that wetland. All these were destroying the environment and biodiversity in this area. Yet there is a man-made lake that is expected to be cleaned up and expanded besides other recreational and development activities being developed around that wetland," he said.

Marshal Banamwana, a Biodiversity Management Specialist at the Ministry of Environment, two weeks ago told The New Times that that 10.6 per cent of Rwanda's wetlands are in Kigali city.

The area of wetlands in Kigali city has decreased from 100 Square Kilometers to 77 square kilometres.

Wetlands have recently been categorised into rehabilitation, sustainable exploitation, conservation and recreational zones.

Wetlands recommended for rehabilitation are on 15 Square Kilometres which is 20 percent, wetlands recommended for sustainable utilization make 29 per cent, wetlands for conservation make 38 per cent and the rest are recommended for recreation.

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