Of all of the water on the earth, 97.5 percent is found in the seas and oceans. Only one fortieth of the earth's water is fresh water, and the majority of this is found in inaccessible locations, such as glaciers, permafrost or deep within the earth. Only one percent (!) of all fresh water is directly available to the ecological cycle. This miniscule reserve is constantly exposed to all manner of hazards, in particular pollution, and it is very unevenly distributed over the earth (in 2002, 1.1 billion people had little or no access to potable water).
A healthy and sustainable water cycle depends on the continued worldwide existence of wetlands: marshes, bogs, woodlands and surface waters and rivers with their riparian zones, percolation regions and flood plains. These regions are thus of crucial importance to all forms of life, including human life.
The major importance of wetland areas is only reluctantly recognised. In the not so distant past, wetland areas were systematically sacrificed to agriculture, human habitation and industry.
At this moment, an expert delegation of the Belgian federal Development Cooperation is in Uganda to help start up an innovative programme of the Ugandan government.
In concrete terms, State Secretary Eddy Boutmans has decided that Belgium will contribute 4 million euros over a period of four years for sustainable management of the wetland areas in Uganda. The total surface area of the wetland zones in Uganda is 13 percent of the total territory. In other words, the wetland zones in Uganda have the same surface area as Belgium.
The new policy of the government of Uganda will contribute to water and food security for the population, will have a positive effect on incomes (since wetland areas generate a wide variety of products and services), will promote biodiversity and will have a positive effect, both quantitatively and qualitatively, on the available reserves of water. Finally, the sustainable management of wetland areas contributes to the prevention of floods and droughts.
Belgium is the first international donor for this program.
More information: cabinet of development cooperation
Dirk Depover (spokesman)
+32(0)476 95 95 04
+32(0)2 549 09 50