The Rusizi delta is a permanent tropical inland delta on the northern shore of Lake Tanganyika, renowned for its high biodiversity. The drainage to the delta encompasses areas of Rwanda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Burundi. Burundi has designated its portion of the delta and adjacent littoral zone of Lake Tanganyika as a Ramsar Site (wetland of international importance).

The Issue

The Rusizi floodplain and delta supports the livelihoods of tens of thousands of Burundian and Congolese people who cultivate, fish, graze cattle and harvest wetland products. Conflicts have erupted over natural resource use and current resource use patterns do not seem sustainable. Invasive species also threaten the ecosystem and the livelihoods dependent upon it.

What has been done?

The information gathered through the biodiversity assessment on the freshwater species of the delta, their threats, ecology, conservation requirements and value to peoples' livelihoods has been applied to raise awareness of the needs for a transboundary conservation area. The data, and subsequent outputs including policy breifs and posters, have helped to demonstrate the great importance of the Rusizi River, its floodplain and delta as valuable and vulnerable ecosystems important for biodiversity conservation and human welfare. IUCN also assisted Burundi, through a separate project, in developing a management plan for the Rusizi Delta Ramsar site (a wetland of international importance) and a national capacity for wetland management planning in order to conserve and promote sustainable use of freshwater biodiversity. The opportunities provided through this other project were used to further promote awareness on transboundary wetland issues amongst local people and within the government of Burundi and similar recommendations were made to the government of DRC concerning the remainder of the delta and the floodplain within that country.