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WWF and Partners Successfully Hold Save River Rwizi Marathon

WWF in collaboration with the Ministry of Water and Environment together with the private sector conducted the Save River Marathon which registered over 2500 participants.

The marathon took three routes (5km, 10km and 21km).

Ivan Tumuhimbise, the Country Director of WWF in Uganda, while flagging off the Marathon stated that the main objective of the race is to create awareness on the importance of preserving river Rwizi and a long-term goal of restoring Rwizi Catchment to its former glory to steer social and economic development within the region.

“We are using the Marathon to create awareness on the dangers of plastic waste and promote effective waste management through the use of constructed waste bankers”; he added.

Dr Callist Tindimugaya, the Commissioner of Water Resources at the Ministry of Water and Environment emphasized that the annual event had created a platform for collaboration and cooperation among the public and private sector stakeholders to have a strong voice and actions for conservation of water and other environment resources.

“There is growing demand for water and this is as a result of the increased population and industrialization of Mbarara City. Therefore, we must safeguard the quality and quantity of water in River Rwizi”, he appealed.
Nancy Cheptegei won the 21km race in the Women’s Category and received a cash prize of UGX 2M, while Scarlet Chebet won the 10km race and received sh1M.

River Rwizi is a lifeline for an estimated 1.4 million people dependent on the catchment resources. From its origin in Buhweju district flowing through twelve districts up to Rakai then to Lake Victoria and the neighboring districts. Over the past twenty years, River Rwizi flow in terms of quality and quantity has been severely impacted on by human activities; Encroachment, brick laying sand and stone extraction, poor agricultural practices and pollution.
These activities have taken a heavy toll on River Rwizi reducing its flow and deteriorating the water quality. Although there has been a significant improvement on the health of River Rwizi over the past few years, various studies indicate that the catchment area is still vulnerable to impacts of anthropogenic activity and climate change.
WWF and AB InBev, operating in Uganda as Nile Breweries are working together to measurably improve water availability, water quality and freshwater biodiversity around the Rwizi Catchment. Under the project, we are catalyzing key decision makers to recognize the value of water and improve water governance to enable solutions to address water availability and quality challenges. The partnership is also working to mobilize investment for sustainable landscape management and further implement solutions to ensure that River Rwizi is managed sustainably and equitably.  Specifically, we are working with communities to develop new enterprises and encourage sustainable farming practices to reduce pollution and over-exploitation along the River Rwizi, securing this valuable water source for people and nature.  
© Happy Ali
WWF Uganda Country Director, Ivan Tumuhimbise flags off runners at the marathon