Rwambu, Uganda

Challenges · Food Security · Water

Landscape Profile

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Rwambu, Uganda

Approximate size (hectares)

2,000

Population

2,714

Climate

Tropical Wet & Dry

Production Systems

Banana, Coffee, Fish, Maize, Potato

Description

Rwambu sub-catchment is located astride the Districts of Kamwenge and Ibanda, in the Rwenzori region, South Western Uganda. It lies between latitudes 0°01’0” N and 0°02’0” N and longitudes 30°24’0” E and 30°25’30” E. The Rwambu wetland and its catchment are drained by Rwambu River, which snakes through Nyabbani Sub-county in Kamwenge District and Ishongororo Sub-county in Ibanda District. The Rwambu wetland forms part of the feeders for the Mpanga River, a permanent river system that drains into Lake George. From a conservation viewpoint, the Mpanga Falls ecosystem is home to the threatened and endemic Cycad trees (Encephalartos whitelokii). This puts the Rwambu wetland at the center of the conservation movement in the entire Mpanga River catchment area.

The wetland supports local livelihoods through the provision of fish, water, and raw materials for crafts. It also provides other ecosystem services such as flood control and micro-climate modification. The main economic activity in the area is agriculture where the major food crops include maize, beans and potatoes while cash crops include bananas and coffee. A small percentage of the population is engaged in pastoralism.

Voices From The Field

Rwambu_Evelyne Busingye

I hold a Master’s degree in Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) and Bachelor’s degree in Agriculture Land Use and Management (LUM). I have 6 years of experience in catchment/landscape based management practices. My involvement in landscape based management approaches began after realising that over 80% of the population in Uganda is engaged in agriculture, which is rain fed and at a small scale (subsistence). Faced with the challenges of increased population, limited land, reduced soil fertility and climate change, farmers have registered increased incidences of crop failures, hence food insecurity. The landscape approaches have proven to check soil erosion, enhance soil moisture and improve crop yields in addition to being cost effective and sustainable.

Evelyne Busingye Program Manager - Natural Resources, Joint Effort to Save the Environment

Major Successes

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In Rwambu Sub Catchment, extreme wetland degradation is yesterday’s story.

Loss of fertile soil, water runoff, water pollution and water borne diseases were common place before the application of “working with nature solutions”. This approach employs Catchment Based Water Resources Management to identify the links between upstream use and downstream impact. With the introduction of low-cost technologies, such as stone bunds, soil bunds, grass stripes, tree lines and check dams placed uphill, the speed of surface water has been halted, giving water the time it needs to infiltrate into the soil and recharge the groundwater aquifers. The soil moisture has increased and crop yields have significantly improved. The uphill interventions have also bore fruit downhill, recharging shallow wells with clean drinking water for downhill communities as well as reducing the siltation into the wetland. This will bring more safe and adequate drinking water for downstream communities.

Working Together

Combining Sanitation and Hygiene with Wetlands Management

JESE, in partnership with RAIN and Wetlands International, are piloting a project integrating wetlands management, rain water harvesting, and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH). During implementation, the project has involved local communities through a series of meetings and trainings, and it is mainly the wetland adjacent populations, local leaders and local government technical officers who attend. The District and central government officials provide technical and policy guidance.

 

Involving the Poor, Learning from Each Other

The project uses participatory rural appraisal techniques which aim at breaking the silence of the poor and disadvantaged and recognize the value of popular collective knowledge. Learning visits have been organized to expose community members to different parts of the country to learn and appreciate other community based landscape management approaches. The staff have been exposed to a number of practices in other parts of the world through exchange visits. The project also organizes learning forums that bring together the different practitioners including CSOs, government and individuals as a platform for information sharing and building synergies. The project also facilitates natural resource user groups in developing and managing enterprises that not only add value, but also mitigate the current unsustainable exploitation of natural resources. During this process natural resource user groups were linked to village savings and loan schemes to increase their investment capital.

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