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Gikondo artificial lake, reality or dream?

The view of the Gikondo swamp, former industrial park, after demolition. (Photo/ Kayitare Jean B.)

By Kayitare Jean Bosco

In 2017 the City of Kigali started a major wetlands restoration in order to reclaim many of the wetlands in the city of Kigali. The Gikondo wetland has been earmarked as the first site for wetland rehabilitation and will see some 100Ha of previously industrial land rehabilitated to a wetland system that helps to regulate floods, improves water quality whilst also providing an important green space in the City for recreation and tourism.

Kigali, the capital city of Rwanda, is surrounded by a vast network of broad valley bottom wetlands. Unfortunately, wetlands in Kigali have been heavily degraded by encroachment and intensive agricultural practices which has undermined their potential to provide water quality enhancement and flood mitigation functions.

The Gikondo wetland is an extreme example of wetland degradation in the City and has been used historically as an industrial site (Gikondo Industrial Park), raising concerns regarding ground/surface-water pollution and soil contamination. Rwanda has made considerable steps in addressing wetland management in recent years which included regulations to regulate and manage wetland use.

The Gikondo swamp is supposed to be developed into an artificial lake in order to curb the seasonal floods. (Photo/ Kayitare Jean B.)

The government has also initiated processes to remove infrastructure from wetlands and buffer zones and is now embarking on an ambitious wetland rehabilitation initiative. This will be undertaken with support from financing received from the International Development Agency (IDA) and a grant from the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) towards the cost of the second phase of the Rwanda Urban Development Project (RUDP II), which includes a strong focus on wetland management.

The city of Kigali reacts

The V/Mayor of the City of Kigali in Charge of Urbanization and Infrastructure, Dr Mpabwanamaguru Merard says; “When the project started it was overseen by the city of Kigali especially in identifying the zones which needed urgent rehabilitation. But since then the project (RUDP II) is under Rwanda Environmental Management Authority (REMA).”

REMA’s position

According to Rwanda Environmental Authority (REMA),the project will RUDP II Project is expected to achieve global environmental benefits from decarbonization, improving biodiversity conservation and reducing land degradation. It will finance the rehabilitation and restoration of priority wetlands, which will protect the city and its residents against the increasing risk of extreme rainfall and floods. It will also protect existing soil carbon stocks which are otherwise threatened by encroachment and degradation and promote the sequestration of GHGs.

The project is expected to cost 186.15 Million USD and will be completed 6 Years (2020-2025) and will continue creating much needed jobs for the youth in the maintenance phase before and after completion.

One of the water ways of the Gikondo swamp. (Photo/ Kayitare Jean B.)
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