Nile Breweries Limited, through its parent company AB Inbev, has donated Shs2.2 billion (USD600,000) to conserve River Rwizi located in Mbarara.
The donated money is meant to support the 3rd phase of a series of projects the beer maker has been funding in the region since 2019 to help ensure that the quantity and quality of water in the River Rwizi catchment adequately support ecosystem functioning and socio-economic development by 2024.
While handing over the cheque to the project implementers on Wednesday in Kakigani, Rwampara, Onapito Ekomoloit, Legal& Corporate Affairs Director, NBL said, “Water is the number one ingredient in beer. That is why we are improving water access and security in the communities where we live and work. Through innovative partnerships and initiatives such as this project.”
He added: “Freshwater resources are being affected by the changing climate, pollution, and overutilization. These threats call for innovated and coordinated responses if Uganda’s water resources are to continue providing widespread economic, ecological and social benefit.”
“AB InBev has been able to make substantial progress on ensuring that water resources are protected and that farmers and communities are better able to access sustainable sources of water without depletion,” said Onapito.
According to Dr Florence Adong, the Director of Water Resources Management (DWRW) who represented the Minister of Water and Environment Beatrice Anywar, R.Rwizi emerged as the most endangered river in Uganda from studies done to assess the degraded water sources in Uganda.
“We need a good strategy to maintain the flow, quantity and quality of our water resource. This requires a lot of cooperation, trust-building and confidence, thus our model is based on Catchment whereby we work with many stakeholders including the community to restore the river,” she said.
Dr Adong added that Water and environmental resources go hand in hand and contribute to the economic development of the country so it’s the citizens’ role to protect and prioritize them.
“On behalf of the ministry I would like to thank Nile Breweries and its parent company AB Inbev for playing their part and call on others in the Private sector to do the same.”
David Duli, Country Director WWF Uganda, the key implementor of the project also commented that their entire aim is to see a world where people can co-exist with nature and water is one of the critical resources. He noted that Environment conservation is no longer charity it is business.
“When we build our resilience of water sources, we are building our economy and improving the lives of our communities. The Rwizi Catchment project aims at developing collective stakeholder-driven approaches and implementing site catchment-based interventions to address water risks to enable improved community livelihoods and water quality and quantity,” he said.
Apart from the fund donations, Nile Breweries also handed over farming equipment and Shs 12M towards the revolving fund of the Bahinji Twetungula farmer’s group from the Kakigani area.
Meanwhile, River Rwizi and its catchment cover an estimated area of 8,200 square kilometres spanning 12 district local governments in Western Uganda. It provides water and related environmental services to approximately 2.5 million people, comprising 4.5 per cent of Uganda’s population. It is the main source of water for Mbarara City, a major hub for western Uganda, hosting a population of over one million people and sustaining beverage, dairy, construction, municipal solid waste, health, and agro-industrial industries.
So far, 95 households in the catchment are able to access safe water through the provision of nine community rainwater harvesting systems. In addition, a zero-grazing dairy project was established as a way of reducing erosion and providing alternative livelihoods for community members; a total river buffer length of 18 km and a total catchment area of 14,567 hectares were mapped for restoration, and micro-catchments in the area have been supported and strengthened in best restoration and governance practices.
The support to restore Rwizi catchment through these project initiatives aligns with AB InBev’s water stewardship goal that 100 per cent of its communities in high-stress areas will have measurably improved water availability and quality by 2025.
The project’s success is to be realized through 3 main outcomes; Protection and restoration of buffer areas of River Rwizi. Improving community livelihoods through innovations that increase access to and adoption of water for production technologies. Developing bankable water solutions for uptake by the private sector that can be scaled in the greater Virunga landscape.
The 3RD phase will focus on project visibility and awareness of all stakeholders and the Rwizi CMC.
The project is being implemented through technical support from the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) the UK and WWF Uganda country office in partnership with the Ministry of Water and Environment (MWE), Directorate of Water Resources Management (DWRM), Victoria Water Management Zone (VWMZ), National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), River Rwizi Catchment Committee, District Local Governments and local communities.
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