Economic Importance Of Rwanda’s Muvumba River Affected By Pollution

Agricultural Chemicals And Poor Wetlands Management Key Culprits

11 Feb 2022 by The Water Diplomat
KIGALI, Rwanda

A study published in the International Journal of Environmental and Agriculture Research in 2021 has found that pollution of the Muvumba River in Rwanda  - part of the upper headwaters of the Nile - could adversely affect its economic importance.

The objective of the study was to assess the potential effect of agricultural activities on water quality in Northeast Rwanda’s Nyangatare District. To do so, researchers sampled water at three points in the river every month for a period of twelve months. Results show agriculture’s negative impact on river water quality.

The researchers found that the release of chemical fertilisers and pesticides, the encroachment of buffer zones along riverbanks, and inappropriate management of wetlands had all contributed to the undermining of the water quality.  

The catchment area of the Muvumba River is one of four areas in Rwanda where catchment management plans have been developed according to the principles of Integrated Water Resources Management. Five remaining areas in Rwanda do not yet have such long-term strategies which could balance competing demands on water resources.

National law defines a buffer zone of 10 metres from large rivers and 50 metres for key lakes, but recent research points to the continued encroachment and pollution of major water bodies.  

Legislation has also been developed in Rwanda to categorise the islands in the country’s 213 lakes which are often biodiversity hotspots. The islands could be classified into inhabitable islands, islands which allow some infrastructure development for tourism purposes, and conservation islands on which no human activities are permitted.