Nairobi, Kenya – The sparkling glaciers high up in the Rwenzori Mountains—and their crystal-clean mountain streams—may be no more, according to WWF, the global conservation organization. Climate change has taken its toll on some of Africa’s highest peaks; the mountains’ glaciers are on their knees. WWF estimates that the glaciers will completely disappear in the next 30 years.
The Rwenzori Mountains are shared by Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and are the third highest mountains on the continent.
“The rivers and wetlands that I saw in this amazing ecosystem were just phenomenal. But the simple fact remains–they are threatened,” says Dr. Musonda Mumba, WWF’s Freshwater Programme Coordinator for eastern Africa. “Their ability to provide water for both nature and man is really jeopardised by the changes that are taking place. Speaking to local people it is already clear that the rainfall pattern has changed and this is having an effect on water resources,” adds Dr. Mumba.
One of the Rwenzori Mountains’ most important ecological and economic functions is the impact the range has on the area’s hydrological (water) cycle. The mountains supply water for nearly 2 million people. The surrounding agricultural land is fed partly by run-off from the mountains. Ruwenzori’s forest clad slopes help regulate the run-off as it flows down slope. While the mountains’ water catchment properties also benefit valuable fisheries on Lakes George, Edward and Albert, whilst also supplying hydro power and the water for irrigation schemes. The mountains are the highest and most permanent source of water for the Nile River.
Read more: WWF, 17 Mar 2008