Home | Comment & Analysis    Monday 26 September 2016

When threatened, nature fights back: A case for wetlands

separation
increase
decrease
separation
separation

By Dr. Abdulkarim Seid

At a glance, wetlands – large expanses of swamps – seem like public nuisances, a waste of space; occupying prime land which could otherwise be turned into sprawling shopping malls, hotels or theme parks devoid of any green.

Indeed, several wetlands in the Nile Basin have undergone degradation due to multiple contributing factors; settlements and urbanization by an ever growing population, reclamation and conversion for agriculture. Other factors are upstream infrastructural development, over-exploitation by local communities and climate change.

Wetlands represent about five percent of the total basin area and are concentrated in two areas: the Equatorial Lakes region and the Sudd area in South Sudan. The Sudd wetlands – the most extensive wetland system in the Nile Basin – are highly variable in size, averaging roughly 30,000 square kilometres, but extending up to as large as 130,000 square kilometres during the wet seasons. The Nile Delta north of Egypt, once an area of lush natural wetlands, has now been almost entirely converted into agricultural land.

The majority of these transgressions have gone largely unpunished while encroachment on wetlands continues to flourish. However, this ‘honeymoon’ usually ends at the onset of the rainy seasons when nature fights back. The difference here is that the dry season is often characterised by light showers, which hardly pose a threat to populations settled in the lowlands. It is a different story when the heavy rains begin, though.

With the advent of climate change and variable weather patterns, there has been a noticeable increase in floods in the Nile Basin. Kenya, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda have all witnessed El Nino rains in recent months that swept chunks of property and lives with their deadly force. It is perhaps at such times that many people realise the advantages of wetlands in absorbing excess water in the environment.

These factors threaten the intrinsic hydrological and ecological link between these wetlands and River Nile including its overall health and life. This is exacerbated by inadequate knowledge and experience for mainstreaming wetland conservation and for making full use of ecosystem services in the planning process.

Wetlands are crucial mainly because they act as a buffer for floods. They absorb the excess water or run off in the environment and release it systematically while causing no harm to the neighbourhood. However, when these wetlands are threatened, they implode with no escape route for the large amounts of water. Hence, floods run riot and cause destruction of the surroundings. Wetlands are also valuable ecosystems that play an important role in maintaining environmental quality, sustaining livelihoods and supporting biodiversity.

The wide range of animal and plant species wetlands support, provide an ecosystem that services in the form of fisheries, fuel-wood, timber, medicines, providing high ecological, cultural and economic value through recreation and tourism. Wetlands also exert significant influence on the hydrological cycle, altering flood flows, maintaining low flows and ground water recharge.

In light of these challenges, the Nile Basin Initiative Secretariat is spearheading a wetlands project and forum whose focus is on strengthening the technical and institutional capacities of the riparian States for sustainable management of trans-boundary wetlands and wetlands of trans-boundary relevance in the Nile Basin such as the Sudd, whose extensive network affects annual flows of the Nile in downstream countries.

Interventions include building strategic and demand-driven knowledgebase on trans-boundary wetlands for informed planning and development of river basins; facilitating wetlands management planning for sustainability of the Nile Basin trans-boundary wetlands and wetlands of regional significance.

The expected benefits cannot be overemphasised; improved water security through tapping on restoration and conservation of wetlands ecosystem services; enhanced livelihoods security for largely local population groups whose livelihoods heavily depend on wetlands ecosystems. Let us all remember to save wetlands.

The author is head of water resources management at Nile Basin Initiative Secretariat.



The views expressed in the 'Comment and Analysis' section are solely the opinions of the writers. The veracity of any claims made are the responsibility of the author not Sudan Tribune.

If you want to submit an opinion piece or an analysis please email it to comment@sudantribune.com

Sudan Tribune reserves the right to edit articles before publication. Please include your full name, relevant personal information and political affiliations.
Comments on the Sudan Tribune website must abide by the following rules. Contravention of these rules will lead to the user losing their Sudan Tribune account with immediate effect.

- No inciting violence
- No inappropriate or offensive language
- No racism, tribalism or sectarianism
- No inappropriate or derogatory remarks
- No deviation from the topic of the article
- No advertising, spamming or links
- No incomprehensible comments

Due to the unprecedented amount of racist and offensive language on the site, Sudan Tribune tries to vet all comments on the site.

There is now also a limit of 400 words per comment. If you want to express yourself in more detail than this allows, please e-mail your comment as an article to comment@sudantribune.com

Kind regards,

The Sudan Tribune editorial team.

Comment on this article


 
 

The following ads are provided by Google. SudanTribune has no authority on it.


Sudan Tribune

Promote your Page too

Latest Comments & Analysis


How NCP failure caused the Sudanese crisis 2016-12-11 06:48:15 By Mahmoud A. Suleiman They say there are sorts of scourges that make you laugh in spite of the feeling of grief and injustice which fills the breasts with a sigh. The regime of the NCP in (...)

Call for the release of S. Sudanese arbitrarily detained by national security services in Juba 2016-12-07 07:54:53 By Bangasi Joseph Bakosoro On 22 December 2015, at around 12pm, I received a call from the National Security Service (NSS) summoning me to their headquarters for a meeting. I drove to the office (...)

Holding accountable those enabling genocide in Sudan 2016-12-05 05:30:49 Eric Reeves As grim genocide by attrition in Darfur is set to enter its fifteenth year, as Khartoum’s claim of a purely nominal “cease-fire” in South Kordofan is belied by repeated reports of Sudan (...)


MORE






Latest Press Releases


Conspiracy, rumour mongering and power struggle behind alleged case of corruption in president’s office 2016-12-05 05:36:45 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 4 December, 2016 Legal Watch Associates South Sudan has been following up the alleged case of corruption in the Office of the Pesident. The case involved 16 people from (...)

Amnesty urges to investigate chemical weapons Sudan’s Jebel Marra 2016-10-12 12:52:01 Sudan: International chemical weapons investigation urgently needed into horrific Jebel Marra attacksAMNESTY INTERNATIONAL NEWSFLASH 11 October 2016 Sudan: International chemical weapons (...)

UNAMID JSR’s statement read to the media on peace in Darfur 2016-10-10 20:57:56 African Union United Nations Mission in Darfur Though the region of Darfur is relatively peaceful at this time, a small portion of Jebel Marra within Darfur continues to be intermittently (...)


MORE

Copyright © 2003-2016 SudanTribune - All rights reserved.