11 May 2016

RAMCEA and BirdLife join forces to promote the sustainable management of wetlands in East Africa

Lutembe. Photo: NatureUganda
By Obaka Torto

The Ramsar Center for Eastern Africa (RAMCEA) and BirdLife International have joined hands to promote the conservation, sustainable management and wise use of wetlands in the Eastern Africa region. This was realized in the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) at the Ministry of Water and Environment headquarters by Mr. Paul Mafabi who is the RAMCEA Regional Coordinator and Director, Directorate of Environment Affairs where the Center is hosted, and Dr. Julius Arinaitwe the Regional Director for Africa, BirdLife International.

The MoU captures and consolidates ongoing collaboration between the two organizations and sets a framework for scaling up the pace and ambitions of their collective efforts to conserve the rich wetlands of the region, which covers Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, and Uganda.  Specifically, the MoU urges BirdLife International and the Ramsar Center for Eastern Africa to collaborate in, among others:

a)    Building the capacity of national and local conservation institutions and organizations to  conserve wetlands in the Eastern Africa region and enhance their wise use;

b)    Availing information on the status and trends of wetlands, their biodiversity and the ecosystem services they provide through collaborative research, and sharing of information, best-practice and lessons.

c)    Development and application of frameworks and sharing tools in wetlands inventory and valuation in order to achieve better planning and sustainable management of wetlands.

d)    Development and maintenance of a regional network of local and national institutions active at Ramsar sites and other key wetlands to enhance coordination of wetland management in the region;

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e)    Carrying out demonstration and pilot projects that promote the wise use, conservation and sustainable management of wetlands and their related natural resources;

“RAMCEA recognizes the important role that Civil Society Organisations play in delivering the mandate to promote the conservation,  sustainable management and wise use of wetland ecosystems of the Eastern Africa region”,  said Mr. Paul Mafabi,. “Therefore, working with BirdLife with its long experience in capacity building of Civil Society Organisations and other partners, contributes greatly to RAMCEA achieving its objectives”, he added.

“Wetlands and the services they provide are key drivers of the regions’ economies and livelihoods of millions”.  However, they are still largely unappreciated and prone to threats such as reclamation, pollution and degradation”, noted Dr Julius Arinaitwe.  “Through this cooperation, BirdLife will leverage the intergovernmental nature of RAMCEA to empower civil society and government counterparts to take appropriate and timely actions to conserve the precious wetlands of the region”.

A key rallying point for the parties over the next few years is to undertake a comprehensive Regional Wetlands Assessment As a key milestone.  This multi-faceted initiative will cover a broad range of issues including valuation of the stocks of biodiversity, carbon and other ecosystem services held by wetlands in the region.  The Assessment will also review information collection and dissemination mechanisms and standards in the region and promote harmonization and sharing of key data. Lastly, the assessment will seek to engage and support all stakeholders engaged in the conservation and protection of the region’s wetlands and celebrate best practice.

Among the collaborative activities currently implemented by RAMCEA and BirdLife with other Partners is the “Sustainable Use of Critical Wetland in the Lake Victoria Basin: Actions for Nature and for People project funded by the MacArthur Foundation, whose goal is to is to strengthen local capacity and improve the knowledge base of lake management institutions for sustainable management of critical wetlands in the Lake Victoria

Basin. Project sites include: Ruvubu National Park (Burundi); Yala Delta (Kenya); Mara Bay and Masirori Swamp (Tanzania) and Lutembe Bay (Uganda). Project objectives are:

  • Expand understanding of wetlands values
  • Strengthen capacity for participatory governance and management of wetlands
  • Empower local communities for better wetlands management
  • Improve the knowledge base and disseminate best practice


For further information about the project, please contact:

  1. Lucy Iyango, Assistant Commissioner, Wetlands Management (
  2. Chris Magero, Regional Project Manager, BirdLife Africa Partnership Secretariat (
  3. Achilles Byaruhanga, Executive Director, Nature Uganda. (
  4. Paul Matiku, Executive Director, Nature Kenya. (
  5. Serge Joram Nsengimana, Executive Director, ACNR Rwanda. (
  6. Charles Rugerinyange, Executive Director, ABN Burundi. (
  7. Ken Mwathe, Policy and Advocacy Coordinator, BirdLife Africa Partnership Secretariat (