MBARARA – Leading beer maker, Nile Breweries, through its parent company ABInbev has donated Shs2bn ($600,000) to conserve River Rwizi located in Mbarara, a project that aligns with ABInBev sustainability goal of water stewardship for securing water access.
ABI’s water stewardship goal is that by 2025, 100% of the communities in high-stress areas will have measurably improved water availability and quality.
The donation will 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 river Rwizi catchment adequately supports ecosystem functioning and socioeconomic development by 2024.
NBL supported Phase 1 with Shs505m, Phase 2- USD200,000. The 3RD phase will focus on project visibility and awareness of all stakeholders and the Rwizi CMC.
Mr Onapito Ekomoloit, the Legal& Corporate Affairs Director at NBL shared that water is the number one ingredient in beer and that is why they are improving water access and security in the communities where they live and work.
He said that 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.
“Freshwater resources are being affected by the changing climate, pollution, and overutilization. These threats call for innovative and coordinated responses if Uganda’s water resources are to continue providing widespread economic, ecological and social benefit,” he said.
Onapito also handed over farming equipment and Shs 12m towards the revolving fund of the Bahinji Twetungula farmer’s group from Kakigani area.
According to Dr Florence Adong, the Director of Water Resources Management (DWRW) at the Ministry of Water and Environment, River Rwizi emerged as the most endangered river in Uganda from studies done to assess the degraded water sources in Uganda.
Ms Adong who was representing Hon Beatrice Anywar, the State Minister for environment at the event in Kakigani, Rwampara shared that there is need for a good strategy to maintain the flow, quantity and quality of the water resource.
She explained that this requires a lot of cooperation, trust building and confidence, thus the mode is based on Catchment whereby they work with many stakeholders including the community to restore the river.
“Water and environment resources go hand in hand and contribute to the economic development of the country so let us all protect and prioritize them. On behalf of the ministry I would like to thank Nile Breweries and its parent company ABInbev for playing their part and call on others in the private sector to do the same,” she said.
The project is being implemented through technical support from WWF UK and WWF Uganda country office 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.
David Duli, the Country Director WWF Uganda, the key implementer of the project said they want a world where people can co-exist with nature and water is one of the critical resources.
He said environment conservation is no longer charity but business and when they build resilience of water sources, they are building the economy and improving lives of 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.
River Rwizi and its catchment covers an estimated area of 8,200 square kilometres spanning 12 district local governments in Western Uganda. The river provides water and related environment services to approximately 2.5 million people, comprising 4.5% 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 which will further reduce erosion and provide alternative livelihoods for community members; a total river buffer length of 18 km, and total catchment area of 14,567 hectares was mapped for restoration; and micro-catchments in the area have been supported and strengthened in best restoration and governance practices.