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WWF Uganda and Nile Breweries Restore River Rwizi to Boost Water Security in Western Uganda

WWF Uganda together with Nile Breweries Limited (NBL) have successfully restored a 27-kilometer stretch of the River Rwizi to address water security issues in Western Uganda.

According to a partnership report launched by WWF and NBL, the restored catchment area will improve water quality and quantity in the region and prevent flash floods during the wet season.

WWF and NBL have demarcated 270 hectares, with 18.3 hectares already restored along a 27km length of the river. Soil and water conservation actions, including native tree planting, have also been undertaken.

The Country Director of WWF Uganda, Ivan Tumuhimbise noted that collaborative effort by WWF and NBL is a significant step towards addressing pressing environmental challenges and uplifting the communities dependent on River Rwizi.

 “The restoration of River Rwizi is a testament to what can be achieved through strong partnerships and community engagement. By working together, we are not only improving water security and quality but also fostering sustainable development and resilience in the region. This initiative showcases our commitment to conserving natural resources and supporting the well-being of local communities,” he said.

During the launch of the report, Adu Rando, the NBL Managing Director, noted the adverse impacts on communities and economies in the region due to the reduced capacity of the river and its catchment to absorb and recover from risks such as flash floods and lack of vegetation.
“Our goal is to have 100% of our communities in high-stress areas show measurable improvement in water availability and quality,” said Adu Rando.

 “By rehabilitating the catchment area, we are addressing not only environmental degradation but also the socio-economic impacts on the communities. This restoration will lead to significant improvements in water security and quality while reducing water evaporation in the wetlands around the Rwizi banks, benefiting both communities and the environment.” He added.

A Rwizi Water Risk Assessment report from 2013 highlighted that the water demand for Mbarara City is unmet during the dry seasons and that water received at the taps is often turbid (brownish) for most of the year.

 “By mapping out sub-catchment degraded hotspots in the river’s mid-stream section for restoration, we hope to integrate sustainable land and wetland management practices to rehabilitate the riverbanks, improve water quality, and enhance the overall resilience of the river ecosystem,” further noted Adu Rando.

The report also highlights the creation of alternative community livelihood opportunities such as beekeeping, cattle and goat rearing, craft making, and a revolving fund to reduce dependence on the river buffer.

“1,076 households have been mobilized to undertake sustainable land management practices like the construction of trenches to enhance soil fertility, reduce soil erosion, and river sedimentation. Nine rain harvesting systems have been installed for clean drinking water, benefiting 95 households.”

By next year, over 5,000 households in six sub-counties in the mid-catchment area of the river are earmarked to benefit from access to clean and safe water.

River Rwizi and its catchment cover an estimated 8,200 km², spanning over twelve district local governments in Western Uganda. The river provides water and related environmental services to approximately 2.5 million people in South Western Uganda, representing about 4.5% of Uganda's population. Despite this, the catchment areas have been heavily degraded, resulting in occasional water shortages during the dry season and flash flooding during the wet seasons.
© Happy Ali
WWF, Nile Breweries and Ministry of Water and Environment officials at the Launch of the Report on River Rwizi