Conserving Ruvu water catchments to enhance water availability

Aug 24, 2017

One of the community members trained as a water gauge reader reads water flow in Upper Ruvu Catchment in Morogoro.

There are about six million people living in the area served by Ruvu Catchment, which covers Dar es Salaam, Morogoro, Dodoma, Tanga and Coast Regions of Tanzania.

Ruvu Catchment supplies water for livestock, irrigation, industries, domestic use, and wildlife in the Selous Game Reserve, Mikumi National Park and Saadani National Park. The river covers an area of 17,789 square kilometres.

How was the Ruvu Basin Managed before UNDP-Tanzania intervention?

Before the adoption of the National Water Policy of 2002, Catchment areas were managed by the regional administrations under the local government authorities. This management approach did not produce the expected results in conservation of water catchments mainly because

  1. Rivers bodies and their catchments extend beyond administrative boundaries.

Therefore, the new National Water Policy of 2002 introduced the Water Basins Management Approach to address the transboundary problem encountered before. However, there was still a need to establish administrative and authoritative bodies to manage these water basins

This led to the enactment of Water Resources Management Act in 2009 which established the river basin authorities for the management of catchment areas.

Why UNDP-Tanzania intervened?

Despite these developments, the institutional capacity and co-ordination mechanism amongst water basin authorities remained weak, unable to achieve the required performance and sustainability in catchment conservation.

Besides institutional and co-ordinational challenges, the growing rate of deforestation, uncontrolled bush fires, land degradation and unsustainable practices in the basin (e.g. livestock keeping) further threatened functioning and sustainability of the Ruvu catchment. Pollution from illegal gold mining aggravated the water quality status due to increased activities of small-scale miners (alluvial gold) in the upper catchment of the Ruvu River.

What was/is currently being done by UNDP-Tanzania?

Responding to the above conservation challenges UNDP Tanzania, in partnership with the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) and the Tanzanian government introduced a five-year programme (2015-2020) titled ‘Securing Watershed Services through Sustainable Land Management in the Ruvu and Zigi catchments (Eastern Arc Region Tanzania)’  

The programme aimed at addressing the challenges facing Ruvu catchment by implementing sustainable land management interventions against land degradation in forests, rangelands and farmlands. The programme was developed by UNDP Tanzania and is currently being implemented by the Ministry of Water and Irrigation (MOWI) with a target to increase water quantity and quality by 10% by the year 2020.

As part of its strategy to address threats driven by socio-economic factors such as poverty, the project has since its inception in mid- 2016, installed more than 150 beehives to provide communities with alternative source of livelihood for the surrounding communities. Thus, by mid-2017, a total of 350 beehives were projected to have been installed.

Commenting on progress, the Project Co-ordinator, Mr. Maximillian Sereka, noted that most of the stakeholders were involved in the project implementation. “Stakeholders from key sectors are being involved in the project implementation to bring about positive changes to the communities and ecosystem”.

The UNDP Catchment Conservation Support include the Zigi river commonly known as the water tank of Tanga City, and the main source of livelihood for surrounding local communities in over 79 villages but faces critical threats similar to the Ruvu catchment from surrounding communities. It is therefore expected that UNDP interventions will help address

Fore more information about the programme please contact

Abbas S. Kitogo

Programme Specialist (Energy, Climate Change, Extractives)

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

Environment, Climate Change & Resilience Pillar

182 Mzinga Way, Oysterbay

P.O. Box 9182, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Mob: +255 689 103 906 Office: +255 22 211 2576;

Skype ID: abbasum2

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