Sebeya River no longer threat to community – Water board

Sebeya River no longer threat to community - Water board
Sebeya River no longer threat to community - Water board

Africa-Press – Rwanda. Rwanda Water Resources Board (RWB) has assured that Sebeya River is no longer a threat to residents of Western Province as its catchment was restored and protected to avoid any further floods and damage.

According to RWB, the river is not a threat anymore to residents of Rubavu, Nyabihu and Rutsiro Districts, thanks to the Sebeya Project.

Official reports confirm that Sebeya has not caused deaths and damage since last year.

Restoring the Sebeya catchment area, which is mainly made up of very steep slopes and high mountains, kicked off in 2019 under the ‘Embedding Integrated Water Resources Management in Rwanda’ funded by the Embassy of the United Kingdom of Netherland.

The €15 million Sebeya Project is implemented by RWB in partnership with IUCN, SVN and RWARRI for technical support.

According to the water board, the restoration works are in the final phase for about 80 upon its overall completion.

Radical terracing, agroforestry, afforestation, dams and dykes have been put in place along with 6,000 community members’ involvement towards finding a long lasting solution to the Sebeya River’s flooding.

“Floods have been fully addressed as no more problems are being recorded since last year in parts of Mahoko and Nyundo which used to be flooded a lot. [But] the journey for catchment restoration continues since increasing afforestation and terraces are still needed,” Dr Emmanuel Rukundo, The Director General of the Rwanda Water Resources Board (RWB) said.

“Floods used to destroy people’s houses, infrastructure and kill people. As of today, there is no record for any of such problems identified as a result of floods,” he added.Sand mining is among the activities being carried out along the river banks, something authorities want controlled.

Speaking to The New Times, the project Manager for International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) noted that the community approach has been successfully helping a lot towards addressing the Sebeya river problems.

“What makes this project unique is the ‘community approach’ that has been applied. But one main challenge specifically not addressed by this project is the mining that is going on in the Sebeya River, mining for sand and minerals. It contributes a lot to the brown color of the river,” he said.

He noted that: “In addition to the landscape restoration and integrated water resources management, the government [of Rwanda] also should look at how to improve mining practices in Sebeya and other catchments to really get water clean, and very safe for people.”Deogratias Nzabonimpa and Etienne Havugimana, the Vice Mayors in charge of Economic Development for Rubavu and Rutsiro districts, respectively, also recommend the community approach to have more projects implemented.

Residents speak out

“Floods no longer kill people; they have stopped,” said Esperance Mukarukundo, a resident of Kanama Sector, Rubavu District.

“We used to experience a lot of floods and landslides. People in high risk zones were killed but we do not record more deaths,” said Fabien Manizabayo, adding that, “our land was becoming infertile before the Sebeya project.”

“Things have changed! We are happy about the project and the government that has saved the lives of many,” Jean Pierre Sebagabo, a father of eight, said, with a smile.

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