Conservation Strides: Lutembe bay forms Ramsar Site Committee
Lutembe bay is located in Sissa and Katabi sub-counties, Wakiso district, Uganda and is among the critical wetland systems in the Lake Victoria basin. It was designated as a Ramsar site in 2006 based on its importance as a habitat for migratory birds and seven globally threatened bird species including Papyrus Yellow Warbler Chloropeta gracilirostris, Papyrus Gonolek Laniarius mufumbiri, Shoebill Balaeniceps rex, African Skimmer Rhynchops flavirostris, Pallid Harrier Circus macrouros, Great Snipe Gallinago media and Madagascar Squacco Heron Ardeola idea. It is also a rich breeding ground for fish and source of water for the surrounding communities.
Among the key requirements of the Ramsar Convention is that every designated site must have a committee to monitor and guide the interventions undertaken within the site. However in the last 10 years following its designation, Lutembe has been lacking an active site committee which has to some extent exposed it to continued degradation.
The Ramsar office for Eastern Africa (RAMCEA) through MacArthur funding has taken a step towards promoting the sustainable management of the wetland by constituting and training a Ramsar site committee for Lutembe wetlands, Uganda. The members of the committee include community representatives from Bweya, Namulanda, Kisubi and Mutungo villages and stakeholders from the private sector, fishermen and the beach management units. For the first time, the committee consists of a private sector representative, Rosebud Flowers, who are also utilizing a significant portion of the site for flower production. The next step involve defining the roles and responsibility of each of the stakeholders and setting clear actions that will ensure sustainability of the wetland.
There is now renewed energy amongst the stakeholders to ensure the wise use of Lutembe, through sustainable management which will maximize the benefits from the ecosystem to its people.