Kusa wetland supports a number of economic activities including fishing, mat weaving and papyrus and sand harvesting. The community members have however been practicing indiscriminate harvesting of the wetland’s resources which has over the years led to its massive destruction.
Naturally, rural communities are known for practicing agriculture and rearing of animals which majorly contributes to their livelihoods. They keep cattle including cows, sheep and goats mostly and just like all living things, these animals also have to feed in order for them to survive. What therefore happens when there is too much drought that the usual feeding sites of these animals have all dried up because of prolonged drought?
In wetland communities, these only leaves one choice, which is encroachment into the wetlands. Kusa wetland is one such areas which have been stricken by drought.
Cows are now forced to forage deep in the wetlands while some of the cattle owners harvest the plants and take them to their cattle, some young men in the wetland community have also created employment from this and they harvest and sell them to cattle owners.
We have been attempting restoration of the wetlands and through our Wetland Keepers, the Village Environment Committee and working hand in hand with local conservation groups, we managed to get the community to appreciate their wetlands and engage in best practices so as to ensure the conservation of the wetland. After taking steps to ensure they do the right thing by themselves, Mother Nature and the future of their wetland, they are forced to take steps back because of unfavorable climatic conditions which in turn yield disasters.
Exploitation of the wetlands for their resources has resulted into major degradation of the wetlands. In some instances, this has led to habitat destruction at a high level and this has seen a number of the fauna in the wetlands encroaching to the community lands which in turn brings about human wildlife conflicts.
The community members have cleared a lot of the vegetation in the wetland for farming, poaching, as passage ways for fishing grounds and some have even established settlements in the wetlands.
The level of encroachment has been so high that in some of the wetlands, for instance in Kusa wetland, some community members have fenced out portions of the wetland and declared those areas as their own personal land.
We are therefore conducting a participatory wetlands demarcation and zonation exercise with the members of the community by identifying the activities in the wetland and mapping the portions of the wetlands that they take place in. Then partitioning the wetlands on a map in three zones, economic, buffer and conservation.
This is aimed at helping in the identification of areas of the wetland where we can conduct wetland restoration through both active and passive regeneration. We are also rolling out an adopt a portion of the wetland campaign. Here, members of the community will be encouraged to adopt and protect that portion of the wetland after which they will be incentivized .