The Great Virunga Trans-boundary Core Secretariat (GVTCS) has revealed that it has set aside money to construct five more tanks neighboring sub-counties of Mgahinga to curb the water scarcity in the area. This was revealed by the Executive Secretary of GVTCS Mr. Sam Mwandha at the commissioning of four water tanks constructed in the sub- counties of Muramba and Nyarusiza in Kisoro district to reduce water scarcity in the villages adjacent to park. The tanks were launched by the Ag.Executive Director UWA Dr. Andrew Seguya on behalf of the secretariat.
GVTCS collaborates with the three countries of Uganda, Rwanda, Congo and brings their respective institutions that manage National parks together for conservation in development. The water tank initiative aims at promoting conservation of park resources through building lasting cooperation with the communities around the Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.
With the construction of five more tanks each serving about 60 families, the pressure to fetch water from the park by the neighboring households will greatly reduce. This will help conserve the forest habitant better and build improved community relation. For a selected village to be allocated a tank, it must be able to provide land where the water storage is constructed. The community members mostly contribute money as part of their initiative to solve the problem.
Kisoro is one of the worst hit districts with limited number of water access points. A community need assessment carried by GVTCS in Mgahinga recognized that water scarcity has contributed greatly on community trespass to park as people constantly sneak into the protected area in search for water. This has over time become a major conflict area between park management and the people neighboring it. In the past, women from villages could trek long distances in search for water which strained families. It became a centre of marital conflict because the husbands suspected their wives of dishonesty whenever they delayed while fetching water from far away points confessed the chairperson the water user committee, Hellen Kabinago.
One tank valued at Shs.30 million can serve 30 villages in the dry season. A tank has a capacity of 30,000 liters whose sole source of water collection is rain harvest. This water is only available for use in the dry season the time when the strong need often arise. The wet season is used for water harvest and storage. The water user committee instituted by the members of the village cells that benefit from the water tanks is responsible for proper management of the tank and water.
The launch activities had earlier in the day kick started with the inspection of the water tanks constructed in various sites of the villages of Kabonero, Chana, Bukazi and Ndego. Uplift the Rural Poor is the Community Based Organization under which money to fund the project is channeled. Apart from tank construction, URP also sensitizes communities in making a collective effort to get land for construction and its management thereafter for sustainable use through well trained water user committee that carry on with the task after handover.
The function was attended by the district officials from Kisoro who included the LCV chairperson, CAO, Chief Conservation Area manager Mr. Charles Tumwesigye and Ag. Conservation Area Manager – BMCA among others. The LCV chairman Mr. Bazanyi Milton argued the communities to maintain the good attitude they have always had towards development. He thanked the people to keep guarding resources from the park and report any illegal activities from those who trespass the park.
In his remarks the Dr. Seguya said that a resource sharing agreement will soon be signed with parishes of Gisozi, Rutongi and Gitendera to sustainably access resources in the park that will include bamboo, medecinal plants and wines for weaving. He challenged the communities to put to good use the money disbursed to them as revenue shared from the park. He also revealed that Shs.86 millions will soon be given to the district as revenue shared for the communities around Mgahinga park and encouraged them to begin the process of planning in preparation for these funds. Previously some of the revenue money has been used to construct water tanks to alleviate the water situation in the surrounding villages around the park.