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Water and Environment in Tanzania: A Case of Pangani River Basin

The Pangani River Basin is of the size of about 43,650 km2, with about 5% of this area in Kenya, and the remainder distributed across the Arusha, Manyara, Kilimanjaro and Tanga regions of Tanzania.

The Pangani River system drains the southern and eastern sides of Africa’s highest peak, Mt. Kilimanjaro (5,985 m) as well as Mt. Meru (4,566 m), then passes through the arid Masai Steppe, draining the Pare and Usambara Mountains before reaching the coastal town of Pangani, marking its estuary with the Indian Ocean.

Pangani Basin is one of Tanzania’s most productive areas, with nationally important agricultural outputs and hydropower production (95 MW, 17% of Tanzania’s national power grid capacity) as well as
globally important forest and biodiversity resources. The basin hosts an estimated 3.7 million people, 80% of whom rely directly or indirectly on irrigated agriculture for their livelihoods.

Climate change has had a significant effect on the basin and the situation is expected to worsen. Glacial ice caps of Mt. Kilimanjaro, towering over the basin, are expected to disappear by 2020 and
increased temperatures are expected to result in a 6-9% annual reduction in surface flows (VPO-URT 2003; OECD 2003). Climate change and abstractions have reduced in-stream flows from hundreds
to less than 40 m³ per second (IUCN 2003) over the past decades.


Author: Andrew Gereza

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