Eight countries made presentations covering various topics under the theme sustainable utilization of inland valleys for food security. Kenya was the first country to present its paper, followed by Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Angola, Zambia and Zimbabwe. All the papers followed a more or less similar format: background to the country, population, area, main drainage basins, agro-ecological zones, climate, soils, etc.
In addition to the general background to Kenya, which alluded to the fact that 88% of the country is semi-arid and very fragile, the presentation went on to elaborate on the nature, extent and role of wetlands in Kenya. In Kenya, wetlands were the first ecosystems to receive international attention through the Ramsar Convention. Kenya ratified the Ramsar Convention in 1990 and has designated a number of sites.
The presentation pointed out that the Ramsar Convention's definition of wetlands, although used in Kenya, seems to cater for sectoral interests of conservationists whose main concern is water birds. Wetlands play a number of roles in the socio-economic development of the country. They are sources of water, provide critical habitats for biodiversity, provide economic benefits through fisheries, recreation and grazing lands, have very important hydrological functions of recharge and discharge of water and water purification. They also serve as spawning grounds for fish and resting ground for birds.
The characterization and classification of wetlands in Kenya has been done on a sectoral basis. There are about nine government institutions and a host of NGOs working with wetlands. All these institutions have varying mandates and interests, and their characterization and classification of wetland vary according to the interests of the institution concerned. For example, some emphasize biodiversity conservation while others focus on water development and agriculture. Despite the differences, there are generally accepted broad criteria used to classify wetlands. These include origin and character. Using these two parameters, Kenya is believed to have six classes of wetlands: marine, estuarine, lacustrine, palustrine, riverine and human made wetlands. The presentation pointed out that this classification was mainly based on biodiversity conservation interests and there is need to have a broader classification that can take into account the interests of agriculture as well as recreational, urban and industrial interests.
On inventory and mapping, the presentation pointed out that no coordinated national inventory has yet been carried out. The efforts that currently exist are sectoral and there is need for sound institutional collaboration to ensure a holistic approach to national inventory and mapping. There is also a need for professional capacity building, funding and a clear cut policy and legal framework for the inventory and mapping exercise.
A number of notable initiatives have been achieved by Kenya with regard to wetland management, despite the fact that there are so many players and stakeholders in the field. A National Wetlands Standing Committee has been established and its mandate is to create public awareness, formulate and coordinate national wetland inventory, coordinate Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and give technical advise on wetland issues. The committee has since drawn up a framework for national policy formulation.
The Kenya presentation concluded by calling for a multi-sectoral inventory, characterization and classification of wetlands, the need for assessing the carrying capacity of wetlands, the need to use EIA as a planning and management tool and the formulation of wetland management strategies.
The Mozambique country paper presentation focused on wetlands for agricultural development. Mozambique is 80% semi-arid, 15% sub-humid 2% arid and 3% humid. The Ramsar definition of wetlands is widely used in Mozambique. It was noted that Mozambique, being a coastal country, should pay attention to the potential of wetlands for ecosystem maintenance.
Mozambique has adopted the SADC/IUCN classification of wetlands and based on that classification there are five wetland ecosystems in the country. These include: marine, estuarine, riverine, palustrine and lacustrine systems. The presentation then went on to focus on wetlands for small scale agriculture in southern Mozambique. Quite a number of the wetlands are being used by farmers, who are benefiting from the use of residual soil moisture. However, a number of limitations have been encountered and these include the need for high investment to drain and prevent floods, bad soil structure and risk of salt intrusion.
A detailed presentation on the wetland soil types and their characteristics was made. The major soil types found are peat and hydromorphic sandy soils. The organic (peat) soils called machongos in the local language are generally fertile and have a very good soil structure for plant growth. Problems of mineralization have been experienced in cases where these machongos have been excessively drained. The occurrence of peat and hydromorphic soils have been mapped for southern Mozambique using GIS. Most peat soils occur in low land areas under poorly drained and swampy conditions and water management is the key issue in the use of the machongos.
Based on the extensive scientific studies carried out in southern Mozambique, shallow drainage should be encouraged in wetland soils and irrigation should be as frequent as possible. Where applicable, a technology based on intensive use of manual tools is recommended and land clearing should avoid burning. The presentation was concluded by a call for more research to improve the understanding of the peat soils.
During the questions and clarifications time, a number of questions and issues were raised and these included:
The presentation started by providing a demographic, economic, topographic and climatic background to Tanzania. Tanzania uses the Ramsar definition of wetlands and according to this definition there are three categories of wetlands: coastal wetlands, rift valley system wetlands and wetlands of the highlands drainage basins.
Attempts have been made to classify wetlands under the Wetlands Biodiversity Project. The methodology used was aerial photos, transect walks and land system studies. A number of constraints were encountered in the characterization and classification of wetlands. These included: lack of funding and facilities as well as a lack of institutional arrangements focusing on coordination.
With regard to the sustainable use of wetlands the high potential of wetlands is well recognized in Tanzania. Tanzania's wetlands are mostly used for crop production and grazing. However, conflicts exist between livestock grazers and crop cultivators. Policies governing the utilization of wetlands can assist in dealing with these conflicts. Private sector investment in irrigation is also being encouraged, however this is only encouraged where EIA has been incorporated as part of the development process. A total of 851 310 hectares of wetland area is suitable for irrigation in Tanzania.
Tanzania is involved in the process of formulating a national policy and strategy for the conservation and sustainable development of wetlands. The Ministry of Agriculture has recommended that a number of issues be considered in wetlands policy formulation and these include the fact that agriculture should make a positive contribution towards wetland conservation, inter agency coordination, identification of major sectors with direct encroachment into wetlands, fair representation of member institutions and legal entities, each wetland be classified, demarcated and assigned a specific use, etc.
A number of constraints and problems have been encountered and these include: limited knowledge on the usefulness and potential of wetlands, insufficient planning, coordination and funds for research.
Uganda is one of the countries that has made considerable strides in wetlands management. With 13% of the country's total area covered by wetland, many wetlands are used for agricultural purposes. About 30% of the total wetland area in Uganda is used for agriculture.
Uganda has a long standing National Wetlands Programme under which wetland inventory and policy formulation have been major components. An inventory of all wetland in the country has been carried out and wetlands in 10 districts out of the total 45 districts have been mapped.
A Wetlands Policy was launched in 1995 and this policy was formulated through a participatory process in which all the major stakeholders were involved. Local government is currently involved in the implementation of the policy.
Attempts to characterize and classify wetlands have met a number of constraints. These include: limited expertise to do the work, limited equipment and laboratory facilities, wetland types that are too diverse and the problems of land tenure.
With regard to the sustainability of wetland use for agriculture, Uganda's experience is that the technology for reclaiming wetlands for agriculture is poor since many wetlands rapidly lost their high productivity when drained. The draining of wetlands also had negative impacts on the hydrology of the catchments and soils. It was also observed that the management practices of wetland use were not good. All these problems necessitated a Wetlands Policy, the main focus of which is to reduce or prevent drainage of wetlands, only allow sustainable use of wetlands, encourages application of EIAs before wetlands are used and promote equity in the benefits derived from wetlands.
The presentation was followed up by a number of questions and clarification points such as:
The Rwanda presentation alluded to the fact that Rwanda is the smallest country in Africa with more than 7 million people. About 52% of the total land area (26 338 km2) is arable (1 3885 000 ha). Within this total area 165 000 hectares are covered by wetlands. Of the total wetland area, 92 000 hectares are used for agriculture.
With regard to characterization and classification of wetlands, a number of studies were carried out. Based on these studies, there are five types of classification:
The presentation then elaborated on each of the classifications highlighting the location and aerial extent of the wetland types.
It was then pointed out, that a number of marshlands have been mapped using the catchment planning approach.
In Rwanda the legislation does place all wetlands under the authority of the state, No full mapping of Rwanda's wetlands has been carried out and there are a number of constraints. These include lack of funds for research, lack of competent staff and lack of research facilities. Rwanda also faces critical challenges of sustainability in wetland use since there is a shortage of land.
The presentation by the Angolan delegate did not refer to a country paper for that country, since the appropriate person had not arrived.
The presentation focused on the aerial extent of wetlands, the hydrographic zones, types of wetlands and their agricultural use. Of the total land area of the country of 1 246 700 km2, wetlands occupy 5 750 km2. These wetlands are in the form of sponges, dambos, floodplains and various types of coastal wetlands.
There are five wetland types in Angola and these include: marine, estuarine, riverine, lacustrine and palustrine systems. These wetlands are found in five hydrographic zones of the Zaire, Cuanza, Zambezi, Cunene and Cubango basins.
In Angola, valley bottom wetlands have always supported small-scale agriculture. Flood recession agriculture on riverside fields called "Nakas" is practised. Most of the soils found in these valley bottoms are hydromorphic. No systematic inventory of wetlands has been carried out in Angola.
There are 36 agro-ecological zones in Zambia and each of these zones has its unique characteristics. These 36 regions have been grouped into three categories called agro-ecological regions.
The Zambian presentation focused on dambo characterization and classification. The general occurrence of wetlands in Zambia is characterized by three factors: mode of formation, physiographic position and moisture regime. Based on these factors wetlands in Zambia comprise of swamps, floodplains and dambos.
The presentation provided a definition of a dambo and went further to describe the characterization and classification process which Zambia adopted. There is a fair amount of literature in Zambia dealing with the characterization of dambo soils. The most authentic ones have characterized dambo soils as grey dambo soils and black dambo clays.
There are four criteria used to classify dambos in Zambia. These include: soils, hydrology, morphology and climate. Under the soils criterion, dambos have been classified as sweet, intermediate and sour dambos. The organic matter content, texture and chemical properties of the soils are also very important under this criterion. The classification by hydrology is based on the moisture regimes of the dambo. The supply, drainage, excess and shortage of water within a dambo are important parameters. Two main dambo types have been identified in Zambia using the hydrological criterion. These are: hydromorphic/phreatic dambos and fluvial dambos. Dambo morphology is also used to classify dambos and in Luapula province five types of dambos were identified. These include: upland dambos, valley dambos, hanging dambos, sand dune dambos and pan dambos. In terms of morphology, dambos often have three main components, which are the dambo centre, dambo margin and dambo flank. With regard to climatic classification, temperature and frost are very important parameters.
The utilization of dambos in Zambia is widespread and the intensity of use is determined by the dambo nature, type and location. Dambos in Zambia are also important for biodiversity. However, no reference to dambos is made in Zambian legislation and there is no local institution controlling the use of dambos.
Before any dambo is put into use, it is necessary to ascertain the chemical toxicity levels in that dambo. However, this is not always the case since research on dambo characterization and classification is hitting a number of difficulties in Zambia. Lack of funds and high staff turn over are some of the problems hindering effective progress in dambo research.
In order to promote the sustainable use of dambos and to establish the use of dambos and the full agricultural potential of these ecosystems, there is need for more research.
In the background to the country, the presentation highlighted that Zimbabwe is perched on the top of the southern African plateau. The presentation focused on experiences on wetland characterization, classification, management and utilization.
About 3.6% of Zimbabwe is covered by dambos and these are largely confined to the high and middle veld of Zimbabwe. Most of these dambos have geological characteristics of the basement complex comprising of igneous and metamorphic rocks. A smaller number of dambos are associated with Kalahari sandstones, karro sandstones and dolerite.
The parameters of potential dambo classification include; geological and geomorphological aspects, climate, soils, hydrology, vegetation, socio-economic aspects and optimal production levels. Classification by climate helps to pinpoint the problem of frost in some dambos while soil criteria does give rise to a number of dambo types. Dambos can also be classified by hydrology where the level and type of water table determines the type of the dambo. Vegetation is important as an indicator of the dambo condition, with respect to hydrology and soils. As moisture changes in a dambo, vegetation changes. In Zimbabwe, dambos are part of the environmental system operated and managed by the farmers, and socio-economic/optimal production levels can be used to classify them.
Through the efforts of the Department of Natural Resources, Zimbabwe is carrying out an inventory and mapping of dambos and other wetlands. Satellite imagery (Landsat Thematic Mapper) is being used and images for the dry and rainy seasons are used to produce 1:50 000 maps. Two dambo types have been identified. Dambo 1 type are those dambos, found with granitic parent material, while dambo 2 are clay based.
As far as sustainable development is concerned, there is legislation preventing the utilization of dambos. Despite this legislation, dambos are widely used in Zimbabwe. Various efforts in the research field have been launched to try and change society's misconceptions on dambo utilization and eventually influence the policy and legislation on the use of dambos. However, a number of constraints such as lack of funding, equipment, etc. are hindering progress in dambo research.
General discussion and summary of issues
The country presentations were followed by a general discussion and a summary of issues by the chairperson. A number of issues were raised in the discussion and these included:
In his summary of the technical session, the chairperson raised the following salient points:
Creation and membership of the Inland Valley Consortium
The Inland Valley Consortium (IVC) is an eco-regional initiative, started in June 1993 by national and international institutes working to improve, in a sustainable way, the productivity of inland valleys. Its headquarter is hosted by one of the founding members: the West African Rice Development Association (WARDA) in Bouaké, Côte d'Ivoire. While the founding members numbered seven, the total membership stands now at sixteen: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Mali, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Togo, CIRAD, FAO, IITA, ILRI, SC-DLO, WAU and WARDA. The Consortium is open to new members. However, the External Review Team has recommended that the Consortium should, for now, limit itself to West Africa in order to consolidate its experience.
IVC is one of the three consortia of the Eco-regional Programme for the Warm Humid and Sub-humid Tropics of Sub-Saharan Africa (EPHPTA), supported by CGIAR. The other two are the Humid Forest Consortium and the Moist Savannah Consortium.
The main objectives of the Consortium are:
The mandate of the Consortium does not include agro-ecosystems such as alluvial plains, coastal plains, mangrove swamps, deltas or lakes.
The Consortium's structure comprises of an Annual General Assembly which defines the Consortium's general policy and priority research themes, a Steering Committee of ten members elected every two years, a Regional Coordinating Unit (RCU) and National Coordinating Units (NCU). A Scientific Advisory Board was established in November 1997 and a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) has been signed with all members.
Activities at national and regional levels
The three major working areas have been so far:
Project budgets have ranged between US$ 5 000 and 30 000. Emphasis was being gradually shifted from characterization to land development and water management or to technology testing and transfer. Other activities include workshops, training for researchers, publications of various documents: a bulletin called `Inland Valley News', workshop proceedings, annual reports.
The future directions of the Inland Valley Consortium will mainly be:
The ensuing discussion at the Consultation revealed the following: