Revival of Mpenge river and its Biodiversity

Mpenge is one of important urban rivers of Rwanda, that found in Musanze city. This river is a home of different animal and plant species, and offer a wide range of ecosystem services to community of Musanze City. However, the river is highly threatened by human activities especially agriculture encroachment and pollution which pose a serious threat to this river. This has massively affected the river’s biodiversity and consequently certain species such as grey crowned crane and hooded vultures migrated and become extinct locally. Not only biodiversity has been affected by the threats but also community members are affected in terms of using unclean water, land sliding along the riverbanks, and the drying of certain river branches among others.

It has been Six months since Nature Rwanda started implementation of a project entitled Integrated restoration and management of Mpenge Rivers, for improved biodiversity conservation and natural resource management” with a financial support from United Nation Development Programme (UNDP) through Rwanda Governance Board (RGB). Besides the success we witnessed in previous quota including protecting buffer zone with 5000 planted indigenous tree species, team of 20 local youth committed to work with us in river conservation, removed invasive species in river ecosystem, waste sorting at household level scheme established in community and freeing the Mpenge river from non-biodegradable wastes; The project also brought a huge impact on biodiversity and community members around Mpenge river. Impacts include; the restoration of river wetlands, coming back of migrated species including endangered grey crowned crane and other bird species, two dried community water supply facilities rehabilitated, produced manure from invasive species in use of other project activities, and a group of 50 women & youth trained on agro-ecology who are planning to form 2 farmer groups in line of getting hands on experience on what they learned and helping other farmer around Mpenge river in agro-ecology practices.   

Giselle Ishimwe a senior six student at ESIR TVET school in option of tourism, and an environmental club member; said in her class field study:” I am really happy to experience the visit of beautiful birds and Nature at Mpenge river. We used to organize study visits far away from school to Ruhondo lake ecosystem for grey crowned cranes and others rare birds visit, which was expensive and time consuming. I am excited to find them locally here at Mpenge. I appreciate the work done for the ecosystem restoration and bringing them back; it is bringing opportunities for youth especially those in tourism as growing sector in Rwanda.”

Olivier Twagirayezu; acting executive secretary of Cyabararika Cell (Project site) said that; the project brought a solution to community members on a case of using unclean water directly fetched from the sources which is among the source of waterborne diseases community experienced. We are also witnessing a positive change in waste management among community members around Mpenge river, which reduced river pollution; a fatal challenge everyone worried about, we are relieved that was reversed. We appreciate the work done and ready to sustain those achievements.

“This project is a life-changing game! Nowadays, I am not only able to conserve environment but also to put a meal on table and send children to school.” Said Goreth Yankurije! “I am a mother to four children, I finished high school 15 years ago in tourism studies and didn’t get a job. Voluntarily, I monitored birds in Mpenge river, but due to the river degradation and lack of other support I failed (sadly), one morning I went for birding I found zero nests and no more birds in the wetland.  The job I got from this project of tree planting and uprooting of invasive species improved my livelihoods but more importantly helped me to give my contribution in restoring this threatened river. I have also learned new things, I got skills in manure production which will help to provide cheap manure for my project of growing vegetables at home using bottles.”

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