Empowering Women for Sustainable Conservation of Akanyaru IBA

Prudence Ndabasanze

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The Akanyaru wetlands contribute to community’s wellbeing of about 100,000 people; the value of this ecosystem derives from the use of its goods and services. They provide unique habitats to threatened species but it was listed as an IBA in danger and remains unprotected ecosystem. We want to disconnect local communities to Akanyaru IBA for its sustainable conservation while providing other sources on incomes to the community. The purpose of this project is to empower women through Cooperative. The main outputs will be habitat rehabilitation, indigenous knowledge documented, and women empowered as key stakeholders who are most of the time are left behind due to social issues.


The Akanyaru wetlands cover an area of 30,000 ha and contribute to the wellbeing of about 100,000 people. The Akanyaru wetlands contribute to community’s wellbeing; the value of this ecosystem derives from the use of its goods (fresh water, building materials, fish and crops) and services (water retention and treatment, storage and recycling of nutrients and waste). The vegetation consists of a variety of marshy habitats and papyrus swamp. Moreover, they provide unique habitats to biodiversity especially for rare or threatened bird species such as Papyrus Gonolek, Papyrus Yellow Warbler, and Madagascar Pond Heron, and endangered Sitatunga.

The Akanyaru wetlands are one among seven Important Birds and Biodiversity Areas – IBA in Rwanda. In fact, despite this status of IBA, the Akanyaru wetlands remain unprotected ecosystem, where biodiversity is seriously threatened mostly by human activities as well as natural phenomenon. Enormous pressure, over the recent years, has been exerted on those wetlands resources through various emerging and increasing uses driven by the growing population. The major threat to this ecosystem is the invasive species – water hyacinth.

The main goal of this project is to disconnect local community to Akanyaru wetlands for its sustainable conservation while empowering vulnerable women as key stakeholders in conservation of this IBA in danger. In order to achieve our main goal, we will have to empower women in biodiversity conservation while raising awareness on protection and promotion of Akanyaru wetlands, to contribute in water hyacinth removal in Akanyaru Wetlands in order to restore and rehabilitate the birds and other animals’ habitat, and to promote and add value on handcraft products produced by Cooperative Sugira Musenyi. This will improve the wellbeing of community living around Akanyaru wetlands while disconnecting them to this IBA in danger for its conservation. This project will document the role of women in conservation of IBAs in Rwanda.

This is a one year long project and our activities will be scatted across the year in order to ensure that the final beneficiaries get the best out of it. Through this project, we will organize five training for KOSUMU members, one field visit, one exchange visit, and one workshop. The training will be lasting two to three days and will be carries out to in Musenyi in order to increase ownership. We will be working with local authorities at the project site to engage community members in the monthly Umuganda - Community service.

Project Updates

5 Sep 2018

Social media video featuring the project.

Community work and Water hyacinth harvesting from Akanyaru wetland