Mobilising Youth as Environmental Champions for Sustainable Management of Natural Resources to Safeguard Lake Rweru Basin, Rwanda; NBDF – Rwanda
Published: 29 July 2021
Youth are targeted because they are the biggest proportion of the population, they are a better resource to mobilise and are key drivers for change.
Lake Rweru is an important Rwanda – Burundi transboundary water body with a wide biodiversity. It feeds the Akagera River, which feeds into Lake Victoria and the Nile through the Rusumo rapid falls. Lake Rweru is as well regarded as a reservoir for Lakes Mugesera, Sake, Akagera and Nyabarongo, which to some is believed to be the source of the waters of the Nile and therefore very key watershed in the Nile Basin.
The swamps of Kanyaru, Nyabarongo and Akagera Basins where Rweru is found has Organic soils with less developed peat. They are endowed with Paper reed (Cyperus papyrus), wild date palm (Phoenix reclinate), water berry (Syzygium cordatum), and perform the roles of being water reserve, water source, and swamp for ecosystem & biodiversity conservation, and Dam potential for energy (REMA, 2008)
Lake Rweru is threatened by water hyacinth and pollution which reduce fish and further pollutes other water bodies downstream. It is also threatened by poor land use management, that includes encroaching on the otherwise buffer zones to protect the water bodies that have been turned into agriculture land.
After realizing this, Nile Basin Discourse Forum – Rwanda (NBDF-Rwanda) and University of Rwanda have decided to work together again (after initially carrying out the agro-ecology study together) to develop a concept and consequently a proposal to deal with issues surrounding the Rweru basin.
The collaborating duo organised a youth consultative meeting to explore what could be done to protect and conserve the Rweru ecosystem and biodiversity.
The youth were targeted because they are the biggest proportion of the population, they are a better resource to mobilise and are key drivers for change. The criteria for selection of participants majorly targeted youth leaders including: leaders of youth groups at the administrative cell and sector levels; youth in public service; prominent youth in business; and unemployed youth with a university level education.
Objectives of the consultative meeting:
- To raise youth awareness of the importance of conserving and managing well the natural resources around them for their personal benefit and for the benefit of the generations to come
- To collectively identify potential environment sustainable opportunities that would create jobs for the unemployed youth
Outcomes of the meeting
The participating youth after realizing the importance of protecting the entire Rweru ecosystem and its biodiversity, agreed to become environment activists and advocates for sustainable management of natural resources
Ideas of what needs to be done for potential creation of jobs were generated
Author: UWAMAHORO Lydia
National Technical Support Expert – Rwanda NDF