Impact of soil erosion on the Rugezi wetland environment in Northern Rwanda

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Kampala International University, School of Natural and Applied Sciences
There is nothing in the whole of nature which is more important than or deserves as much attention as the soil. Truly it is the soil that makes the world a friendly environment for mankind. It is the soil which nourishes and provides for the whole of nature; the whole of creation depends on the soil which is the ultimate foundation of our existence Soil erosion removes valuable top soil which is the most productive part of the soil profile. This results in lower yields and higher costs of production. Accelerated erosion and excess runoff are connected with deforestation of fragile zones, denudation and compaction of soil through overgrazing, exhaustion of soil through intensive cropping without compensation from applications of organic matter and nutrients. The soil that is detached by accelerated water or wind erosion may be transported considerable distances. This gi~ies rise to ‘off-site problems’. Water erosion’s main off-site effect is the movement of sediment and agricultural pollutants into water courses. This can lead to the silting-up of dams, disruption of the ecosystems of lakes, wetlands and contamination of drinking water, In some cases, increased downstream flooding may also occur due to the reduced capacity of eroded soil to absorb water, The overall objective of the study was to assess the impact of soil erosion on Rugezi wetland environment, To achieve this objective and answer the research questions, questionnaires, interviews, photography and observation check lists were employed to collect data. These were analyzed qualitatively and quantitatively. Results show that the major causes of soil erosion in the study area are related to human population activities such as deforestation, political economy explained by reduction of landholding size and the extension of agriculture into marginal areas, Technology and culture also cause soil erosion because farmers use traditional methods in agriculture without crop rotation. None used tractors and other agricultural machinery due to the relief of the area, The study also found out that the sediments carried away by erosion have impact on wetland functions; these impacts affected transport, the socio economics environment, culture, hydrology and ecology. V Finally, it was observed that the activities of local communities in the wetland, their awareness on wetland management and their participation in wetland protection, explain their attitudes towards wetland management. Because the wetland is misused, the recommendations are addressed to the policy makers, to the administrators, and to the local community.
A thesis presented to the School of Postgraduate Studies and Research Kampala International University Kampala, Uganda in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Degree Master of Sciences in Environmental Management and Development
Soil erosion, Environment, Wetland