Enhancing the Stewardship of the Dunga Wetland through environmentally-sound economic alternatives.

SUMMARY

This project aims to preserve the natural heritage and biological diversity of the Dunga Wetland on Lake Victoria gulf, through proper management yielding sufficient income for its perpetual care.

ESTIMATED COST: $11424
LOCATION(S): General

Introduction

The unsustainable exploitation and overdependence on the papyrus (cyperus papyrus) wetland on Dunga swamp in recent years has lead to a steady decline in the wetland area and quality. Papyrus harvesting at the swamp was traditionally dominated by the women specifically for the local cottage crafts like mats, chairs and baskets. However, papyrus conversion and degradation has intensified to include men driven by decline in fish catch from Lake Victoria and demand for agricultural land. This pressure on the papyrus swamp to meet the needs of the local community has impacted negatively on the health of the swamp, the lives of people and the economy of the area.

Among the causes of the problem is unsustainable exploitation of the papyrus (cyperus papyrus), conversion of the wetland to agriculture, lack of alternative livelihoods activities, and lack of information and awareness on the value and functions of the wetland to the wider society. Consequently, there has been a reduction in papyrus cover, deteriorating environmental conditions and loss of livelihoods and deepening poverty.

The overall objective of the project is to reduce the levels of damage to the papyrus wetland in the Dunga swamp through an array of alternative livelihoods activities and education that would benefit all users and the wider environment.

The main activities of the project are: Initiation of alternative income generating activities to the Supa Women Group members to reduce dependency on the papyrus plants; Improving the incomes of the Supa Women Group members through value addition to the papyrus-based products by training on value addition and marketing; and raising of awareness and sensitisation among the papyrus users on the value and functions of the wetland to ensure their participation in the monitoring and decision making in regard to the wetland use.

The project monitoring will be done on a quarterly basis to assess progress in achieving the objectives, and will involve the project proponents, project sponsors and the project beneficiaries. The project will be evaluated after the implementation timeline to gauge the level of impact.

Statement of Need.

Lake Victoria forms the bulk of livelihoods activities in Dunga, dominated by fishing. However, fish catch has been on the decline due to the invasion of the lake by water hyacinth; an exotic weed that has prevented fishermen from fishing, and fall in water levels. Consequently, local communities whose livelihoods have been fishing over the years are now turning to alternative sources of income such as papyrus-based production for the cottage industries.

The Dunga swamp has seen an unprecedented increase in human population putting alot of demand on its rather meagre and limited resources: the lake and the wetland. Consequently, there has been an increase in the rate at which the papyrus is harvested to supplement the local needs. Besides, while traditionally women undertook the harvesting of papyrus and mat making, today, men equally take part. Clearly, the rate of harvest of the papyrus is largely felt to be unsustainable.

Surveys have pointed a bleak future to the survival of the papyrus wetland and resident wildlife if the rates of harvesting continue unabated. A comparative aerial survey between 1969 and 2000 showed 50% loss in Dunga swamp. They further state that Papyrus height and density are inversely related to human disturbance including footpaths, cutting, burning, grazing and farming. Consequently, it is estimated that with a sustained average population growth rate of 2% to 3%, and the degradation patterns by human activities at the observed rates, Dunga is expected to disappear entirely in the next 20 years.

It is very clear therefore that we need to identify and integrate appropriate alternative livelihoods activities to reduce pressure on the Dunga wetland resources to enhance poverty reduction and economic empowerment within sustainable development framework. In addition, we must embrace sustainable utilization of wetland resources as a greater hope for the future of Dunga wetland.

To achieve these goals, this project will exploit market oriented production activities such as value addition to papyrus based products, promoting alternative livelihoods activities and educating the Dunga community on the role and value of the wetland to their survival and livelihoods. The project will seek to engage the local community in the wetland management process.

The beneficiaries of the project are estimated at 50,000 people who rely directly on the swamp for their livelihoods. Furthermore, restoring the integrity of the swamp will restore its functions of water purification thereby providing water for domestic and livestock use. The survival of wildlife species resident and dependent on the wetland will be enhanced. This will provide further potential for community based ecotourism activities. Provision of alternative livelihoods activities and adding value to local products will reduce pressure and dependency on the wetland resources while enhancing the quality of life among the Dunga residents.

Project Goal

Sustainable and environmentally-sound economic alternatives for papyrus (cyperus papyrus) dependent households and other rural stakeholders surrounding Dunga Wetland.

Objectives:

To initiate and support sustainable alternative livelihoods activities in the Dunga Wetland.

To reduce overexploitation of the papyrus (cyperus papyrus) through value addition to papyrus-based products.

To enhance biodiversity conservation through increased awareness of the value and functions of the wetland among the Dunga residents.

Proposed Activities

In order to achieve the above objectives, the following activites will be inmplemnted;

  1. Train members of SWG on poultry keeping and improved husbandry practices for milk goat keeping.
  2. Train SWG members on basic book keeping skills and in methods of inventorying and monitoring to enhance accounting for and managing the finances of the group projects and on improved market links and logistics for marketing poultry and milk products.
  3. Identification of appropriate site and establishment of a poultry and milk goat keeping project.
  4. Procurement of goat breeds, poultry pullets, equipment and site preparation for the project structures.
  5. Training of SWG members on value addition strategies to the papyrus-based products such as wall hangings, CD racks, chairs, and lamp shades among others that would use few plant stems but fetch higher returns.
  6. Preparation of public awareness materials such as brochures, posters, weekly talks on radio, competitions, festivals and drama, and dissemination within Dunga wetland. This would be done in collaboration with a local radio station: Radio Lake Victoria, a youth environmental organisation: DECCTA, and the other stakeholders.
  7. Sports day: an open sports and fun day will be held to bring together members of the community in a competition. Sports, especially football and athletics, have been used to deliver important health, security/peace and conservation messages across the world. The group will promote simple aqua sports in the lake, bird watching and group sports to celebrate the value, functions and conservation efforts in Dunga wetland.

Estimated Budget

The project is estimated to cost US$11, 424 over a period of two years.

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