Hictham Filali Zehri is the national ambassador for NET Africa in Morocco, providing periodic reports about wetlands and water related issues. According to the High Commission for Water, Forests and Combating Desertification, Morocco is endowed with: • Two sea fronts (3500 km of beaches) • Rich in water streams (1500 km) • Natural lakes (700 ha) • Over 110 dams (100,000 ha) • Rich and diverse in wet areas • 84 Wetlands based on National study on protected areas (1995) Referring to the Ramsar Convention, wetlands are areas covered by marshes, muddy lands and natural or artificial water where they are stagnant or dry, fresh or salty, including areas that are flooded by seawater and which do not exceed the low tide as six meters. The Ramsar Convention (1971) is an international treaty for the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands in order to stop the progressive loss of present and future wetlands and to rehabilitate the basic ecological functions of wetlands. The Convention bears the name of the city of Ramsar in Iran. Morocco has signed the Ramsar Convention since 1980 as a way to show the engagement of the country with the international community for common concerns. However, the application of the convention is not a simple task. The Economic, Social and Environmental Council (ESEC) is a constitutional consultative assembly. It represents key economic, social and environmental fields, promoting cooperation between different socio-professional interest groups and ensuring they are part of the process of shaping and reviewing public policy. They work in many countries around the world including Morocco. The National Economic, Social and Environmental Council (NESEC) on water management in Morocco reported in 2014 on the need for a comprehensive and integrated water resources management plan. The council described water resources management in Morocco as chaotic.
In response to the report by the National Economic, Social and Environmental Council (NESEC) on water management, the Moroccan government established a new police unit to supervise the use of water across the country. The establishment of this water police unit is not a new initiative; apparently, first established in 1995, 23 years ago. It has taken 23 years to organize and establish a unit to monitor water resources. However, there are many challenges ahead for this new unit, below is a summary of these challenges. 6.1.1: Proportion of population using safely managed drinking water services 6.2.1: Proportion of population using safely managed sanitation services, including a hand-washing facility with soap and water 6.3.1: Proportion of wastewater safely treated 6.4.1: Change in water-use efficiency over time 6.4.2: Level of water stress: freshwater withdrawal as a proportion of available freshwater resources 6.6.1: Change in the extent of water-related ecosystems over time 6.A.1: Amount of water- and sanitation-related official development assistance that is part of a government-coordinated spending plan 6.B.1: Proportion of local administrative units with established and operational policies and procedures for participation of local communities in water and sanitation management 10.2: By 2030, empower and promote understanding about water usage. 13.3: Improve education, awareness-raising and human and institutional capacity on climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction and early warning.
Caroline Mwebaza is a Wetlands Youth Ambassador for NET Africa representing Uganda. Lubigi wetland is the largest remaining wetland in Kampala city and drains into river Mayanja in the Lake Kyoga basin. The Lubigi wetland forms an irregular semi-circle around the city of Kampala on 7.02km to 15km average, starting at around Kisaasi to the north, stretching westwards, passing through Bwaise and Kawaala, then stretching southwards through Busega. The swamp has feeder arms that stretch along the Kampala–Mityana Road towards Buloba, along Kampala–Masaka Road towards Kyengera, along Kampala–Hoima Road towards Nansana and along Sentema Road that stretches from Mengo to Sentema. The geographical coordinates of Lubigi wetland are 0°19'12.0"N, 32°31'12.0"E (Latitude: 0°19'12.0"N; Longitude: 32°31'12.0"E). Lubigi wetland is a very important water catchment area, serving the city of Kampala and the surrounding areas of Wakiso District. Rainwater from the northern and western suburbs of the city drains, via underground aquifers and surface run-off, into the swamp, where it supports unique wildlife, including over 200 species of birds, one of which is the crested crane, the national bird. The predominant flora is papyrus grass. Ugandans use wetlands often called the country’s “ granaries for water ” to sustain their lives and livelihoods. They rely on water for construction materials, firewood, hunting, and fuel. They also use the wetland for farming, fishing, and to graze livestock. The Lubigi wetland is one of many wetlands that supply direct or subsistence employment for 2.7 million people; almost 10 percent of the population in many parts of the country, wetland products and services are the sole sources for livelihoods and the main safety net for the poorest households for job opportunities. Sustainable management of Uganda’s wetland is thus not only sound economic policy; it is also a potent strategy for poverty reduction. The activities around Lubigi wetland include crop cultivation and settlement, brick making and sand mining, fishing, grazing and collection of the other wetland resources like fodder, water, medicines, fuelwood, vegetable building, for house building materials and craft materials among others.
The size of the community Kikuyu town has a high population density and the current figures are about 500 persons per kilometer square. Since land is a very important factor of production, it is divided into small portions on which permanent and semi-permanent residential houses are built. What surrounds the swamp? Local farmers who grow horticultural crops, livestock rearing, learning institutions, government department, and the civil society institutions surround Ondiri swamp. Pollution in the swamp There are extensive deforestation and destruction of the ecosystem, use of fertilizers and other inorganic manures by local farmers leading to the growth of algae in the swamp. Pesticides also find their way into the swamp causing pollution. The town lacks a sewer system and there is a likelihood of pollutants seepage from septic tanks. There is also the dumping of solid waste and uncontrolled water abstraction. The swamp is set on fire to generate new forage; a huge smoke is visible in the sky, which pollutes the air too. Is the swamp being used in the wrong way? There is an uncontrolled abstraction of water from the swamp for irrigation of farms and for domestic use. The water pumps around the swamp are not metered which makes it hard to predict the amount of water being abstracted. Some people also harvest macrophytes for livestock forage to be used domestically or commercially, this is done by setting up the fire in the swamp to generate new forage. This in return kills the important microorganisms in the swamp. A macrophyte is an aquatic plant that grows in or near water and is either emergent, submerging, or floating, and includes helophytes (a plant that grows in marsh, partly submerged in water, so that it regrows from buds below the water surface). Microorganism is an organism that can be seen only with the aid of a microscope and that typically consists of only a single cell. Microorganisms include bacteria, protozoans, and certain algae and fungi. Any safari? The swamp does not necessarily attract safaris but some people go there for bird watching and use it as a recreation site. Some people also flock the swamp because they believe the water has a healing and soothing power. Projections about drying up of the swamp due to climate change if the community are not aware Yes, too much water abstraction for greenhouse farmers and the presence of eucalyptus trees planted too close to the edge of the swamp threatens the existence of the swamp and may lead to drying up if something is not done. Recently during the world wetlands day, the friends of Ondiri swamp planted some indigenous tree species to conserve the swamp this was a great move.