Poor handling of garbage, coupled with toxic effluents from industrial, mining and garage activities continue to foment trouble that could ruin lives and marine wildlife in Rwanda’s river if unchecked, a new study revealed.
An assessment report on pollution of the Nile Basin and associated water ecosystem basins in Rwanda singles out household waste as polluting water bodies the most, followed industrial establishments and car garages.
While the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda which commissioned the research says that no assessment was done in the clinics or hospitals to determine the extent to which people are being affected, it estimated the loss of fisheries in the river at 15.6 per cent.
There have been at least three separate mass fish death incidents across Rwanda’s water bodies including in the Mukungwa River in Musanze and its associated water pools used for fish production, Lake Kivu, and Lake Muhazi early this year.
The Government cited the decline in oxygen in two of the incidents, and industrial pollution in the other.
However, Dr. Jean Damascene Gashumba, lead researcher said all indications pointed to increased levels of pollutants namely chemicals, heavy metals and others potentially endangering soil, surface and groundwater.
These, alongside climate change and absence of cleanup crews, instigated the loss of marine wildlife.
“Floods particularly cause chemical and toxic runoff water from open air dumping sites to spread across interconnected water bodies. Without cleaning, different chemicals converge with adverse effect,” he said.
Also, elevated levels of pollution linked to effluent and waste water from domestic outlets, municipal sewers, canning industries, food processing units affect microorganisms within water bodies.
Researchers term the contaminants trouble for marine wildlife such as fish and obstruct normal activities in Nyabarongo and Akanyaru, which together with their many tributaries, form the River Akagera that feeds Lake Victoria.
Rwanda Environment Management Authority has not responded to our queries regarding the study findings.
However, players in the waste sector say rapid urbanisation has seen waste volumes increase at a pace that is unmatched by efforts and investments in waste management systems that are now overwhelmed.