By Henry Sekanjako
A water expert, Henry Bazira, has called for a campaign to save River Rwizi in western Uganda which is running dry due to pollution.
His call followed a story which ran in New Vision recently that revealed that the river was drying up.
“We urge all Ugandans to come out and save the drying river Rwizi. New Vision has been supportive on saving Lake Victoria. It should in the same way channel the message in saving river Rwizi,” Bazira, who is the executive director of Water Governance Institute, said.
For three months, starting April until June, Vision Group, started a campaign to save Lake Victoria on its platforms. The campaign set out to highlight irresponsible human activities on the lake and their impact on the socio-economic wellbeing of Uganda and East Africa at large.
The drive impacted on the world’s second-largest fresh water lake and in turn the media company received an award for sensitizing the public about irresponsible activities that can lead to the drying up of the great natural resource.
Recently, New Vision published a story indicating that thousands of people and their livestock in western Uganda were depending on polluted water from River Rwizi.
The National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) western region focal person, Jeconious Musingwire reported that the water from the river had turned brown.
It is from this background that expert Bazira draws his concerns.
He says media needs to sensitize the communities around River Rwizi on the dangers of polluting the water resource.
It is reported that people excavate sand from its river bed, wash cars in it and also burn bushes along the embankments of the river.
“River Rwizi is a very important water catchment to Lake Victoria which cannot exist [L. Victoria] if rivers like Rwizi dry up, so we need to save it from drying up,” said the expert.
River Rwizi originates from the Rukungiri – Sheema Bushenyi – Kiruhura –Ntungamo-Kabwohe – Mbarara catchment that feeds into Lake Mburo, and Lake Nakivale. Lake Mburo finally drains into Lake Victoria.
It supports a diversity of wildlife, domestic animals and humans.
Like most rivers in the country, it has suffered significant encroachment of its banks through cultivation and construction of residential, commercial and industrial facilities covering 100m buffer mark for the river.
Bazira asked government to consider preserving and maintaining key water sources from such activities, saying they are key in running and supporting its program on hydropower plants for electricity generation in the country.
“Government should establish an independent monitoring framework that includes citizens and civil society organizations that will act as watchdogs to illegal activities within the catchments.
“Drying of water bodies in the country is a security risk that must be addressed.”