Rwanda to Establish Mukungwa Urban Eco-Tourism Park in Musanze District

The Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA), in collaboration with Musanze District, is set to establish the Mukungwa Urban Eco-tourism Park as part of a newly approved land use and development master plan. Marie Grace Nishimwe, Director General of the National Land Authority, announced the project which aligns with the government’s recent approval of master plans for eight districts, including Musanze.

The Mukungwa Urban Eco-tourism Park will be developed on land allocated for eco-tourism in the Musanze master plan. Mukungwa is a tributary of the Nyabarongo River, which ultimately flows into Lake Victoria, the Nile River, and the Mediterranean Sea. This initiative aims to transform the Mukungwa wetland into a vibrant urban recreation and eco-tourism hub.

The government has invited consultants to prequalify for a feasibility study to guide this transformation. The study will encompass baseline assessments, the development of alternative concepts, preliminary infrastructure designs, and investment plans. “Musanze’s land use master plan will rejuvenate Mukungwa Leisure Park, offering visitors a delightful experience, including a grand stadium for events and a remarkable building for large gatherings,” Nishimwe stated.

The Mukungwa Urban Eco-tourism Park will be Rwanda’s second eco-tourism park, following the successful Nyandungu Eco-Tourism Park in Kigali. The project is estimated to cost Rwf10 billion and will be part of the “Integrated Mukungwa Wetland and Landscape Restoration Project,” financially supported by the German government through KfW and the Lake Victoria Basin Commission (LVBC).

Additionally, the project aims to provide relief to communities affected by flooding along the Mukungwa River in the Northern and Western Provinces through a $300 million initiative. Proposed interventions include catchment restoration structures, expansion of road crossings, riverbank fortifications, sediment management, large detention dykes, and the protection of river buffer zones.

The eco-tourism park will cover 283.8 hectares, contributing to the district’s urbanization and environmental conservation efforts. Musanze’s broader land use plan allocates 9,777.38 hectares (22.09%) for urbanization, 19,203.03 hectares (36.4%) for agriculture, 1,879 hectares (3.5%) for water bodies, 18,203.2 hectares (34.5%) for forests, and 283.8 hectares (0.5%) for eco-tourism.

Musanze district is also partnering with investors to renovate old buildings and construct new multi-storey structures as part of its rapid urbanization efforts. Key projects include the Volcano expansion zone by the Rwanda Development Board, an inauguration center, and industrial zones for general and light industries. The master plan is based on five planning concepts: protection of agricultural land, mixed-use and mixed-income development, densification, incremental housing development, and green growth.

In addition to Musanze, the government has approved master plans for Gakenke, Kirehe, Ngoma, Nyaruguru, Rubavu, Rulindo, and Rwamagana districts, all of which include provisions for eco-tourism. Notable allocations include 308.9 hectares in Rwamagana, 36 hectares in Rulindo, and 8.1 hectares in Gakenke.

These comprehensive master plans prioritize urbanization, agriculture, water bodies, forests, wetlands, and buffer zones, ensuring balanced and sustainable development across the districts. As Rwanda continues to innovate in sustainable development and eco-tourism, the Mukungwa Urban Eco-tourism Park represents a significant step towards ecological preservation and community engagement.

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