The overarching goal of the TWB-MRB Project is to implement a coordinated and highly participatory project to improve water resource management in ways that reduce and mitigate threats to biodiversity in the Mara River Basin and Mara-Serengeti Ecoregion, while enhancing the health and livelihoods of communities living in the basin.
Global Water for Sustainability (GLOWS)
Trans-boundary, Biodiversity, Water Supply, Sanitation, Human Health, Policies
The overarching goal of the TWB-MRB Project is to implement a coordinated and highly participatory project to improve water resource management in ways that reduce and mitigate threats to biodiversity in the Mara River Basin and Mara-Serengeti Ecoregion, while enhancing the health and livelihoods of communities living in the basin. This larger goal is being pursued via the following objectives:
- Achieving trans-boundary agreements that will ensure water flows to sustain the biodiversity of the Mara-Serengeti ecosystem.
- Implementing a coordinated and highly participatory program to facilitate improved and harmonized river basin management practices with policies to ensure sufficient flows of clean water to service multi-sectoral needs, especially biodiversity.
- Promoting explicit biodiversity conservation results that go beyond the positive externalities of an integrated water resources management (IWRM) activity, and to monitor indicators for biodiversity conservation.
- Providing for safe water and adequate sanitation in selected communities engaged with the IWRM activities of TWB-MRB.
The Mara River Basin (MRB) covers an area of approximately 14,000km2 within the two countries of Kenya and Tanzania. The upper 65% (8,941km2) of the area is in Kenya, while the lower portion is located in Tanzania. The Mara River, which is 395km in length, has its origin in the Mau Escarpment in Kenya and its mouth at Lake Victoria. The two primary perennial tributaries of the Mara River are the Amala and Nyangores Rivers which originate in the Mau Escarpment and flow south-westwards.
Every year the Mara-Serengeti Ecoregion, shared by the two countries of Kenya and Tanzania, witnesses a spectacular natural event; approximately 1,000,000 wildebeest, 200,000 zebras and 400,000 Thomson gazelles migrate from the Ndutu Plain in Tanzania, westward, in search of food and the precious resource: water. The migration reaches the Mara River around July or August and proceeds northward, crossing from the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania into the Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya, during the months of September and October. This migration has been linked to water availability. The Mara River, being the only perennial river in the Ecoregion, therefore, plays a crucial role in ensuring the survival of the migrating animals.
The human population in the MRB stands at approximately 840,000 (est. 2010), of which approximately 558,000 are in Kenya and the remaining 282,000 in the Tanzanian portion of the basin. The majority of the total population can be classified as rural.
Poverty is a major concern in the MRB. In Kenya, nearly half of the basin’s population lives below the poverty line ($1.50 and $3,50 per day for rural and urban respectively) . On the Tanzanian side, the rate of poverty is around 40%. In general, those living in the MRB earn their living from growing food crops (36.1%), cash crops (9.6%), livestock production (5.9%), fishing (9.5%) and business enterprises (11.4%).
The Trans-boundary Water for Biodiversity and Human Health in the Mara River Basin (TWB-MRB) Project was initiated in 2006. The USAID/East Africa-funded TWB-MRB Project is a collaborative effort under the Global Water for Sustainability (GLOWS) Program with participation from Florida International University (FIU), WWF Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Programme Office (WWF-ESARPO), World Vision Kenya, and CARE Tanzania. These partner organizations support numerous governmental and local partners in the development and implementation of a basin-scale integrated water resources management plan in the trans-boundary Mara River Basin of Kenya and Tanzania.
Since its inception in 2006, the TWB-MRB Project has reach out to tens of thousands of people in the Mara River Basin. A harmonised, holistic approach has aimed at improving the health of local communities whilst, at the same time, preserving the unique biodiversity in the Basin. To date, the following achievements have been realised:
- Number of people trained in Natural Resource Management (NRM) and/or biodiversity conservation: >4,000
Number of policies, laws, agreements or regulations promoting sustainable Natural Resource Management (NRM) and conservation: >50, including the following trans-boundary mechanisms:
Number of people in target areas with access to improved drinking water supply: >20,000
Number of people in target areas with access to improved sanitation facilities: >15,000
The key question in almost any project is that of sustainability. How does a Project leave its legacy, once it has come to its conclusion, in the hands of those entities ultimately responsible for the welfare of its locality and population?
In order to ensure equitable and sustainable trans-boundary implementation, the mechanisms developed under the TWB-MRB Project are adopted by the Lake Victoria Basin Commission of the East African Community (LVBC/EAC), subsequent to endorsement by the Partner States of the EAC (Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda). This step is a crucial one as it ensures the mechanisms remain long after the conclusion of the TWB-MRB Project scheduled for September 2012. The following strategic mechanisms have been formulated since 2006:
- Biodiversity Strategy Action Plan (BSAP)
- Environmental Flow Assessment (EFA) of the Mara River
- Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of the Mara River Basin
- Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) within the Mara River Basin
Key indicators of change include:
- Maintenance of the reserve flow, as specified in the Environmental Flow Assessment of the Mara River.
- Adoption of the aforementioned mechanisms by key stakeholders and agencies within the Mara River Basin.
The Project could be replicated at the trans-boundary level, where river basins cross national borders.
The most important suggestion would be to ensure that the governmental entities responsible for ultimately implementing the trans-boundary policies, within the project region, spearhead the adoption of any policies developed under the project.
The mechanisms developed under the TWB-MRB Project are adopted by the Lake Victoria Basin Commission of the East African Community (LVBC/EAC), subsequent to endorsement by the Partner States of the EAC (Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda).
For more information please contact the GLOWS TWB-MRB Project Coordinator, Mr. Iman Yazdani at email@example.com or visit the GLOWS website at www.globalwaters.net