Tanzania’s Pangani River is a vital resource for national economic development. However, it is under severe pressure due to the overallocation of water, altered rainfall patterns and growing populations. Current uses demand more water than is available and streams that formerly flowed year round now run dry for parts of the year. We studied river flows and water uses, bringing people together to develop a wide basin management plan.

The Pangani river drains from the southern side of Africa's highest mountain, Mount Kilimanjaro to the Indian Ocean, through a basin with a population of 3.4 million people, 80% of whom rely on small-scale farming.  Ecosystems are in decline and, with aquatic resources supplying up to 25% of household income in parts of the basin, the poorest are those most affected by declining water levels.

A WANI demonstration project, in collaboration with the Government of Tanzania and the Pangani Basin Water Board (PBWB), tested implementation of Tanzania’s 2002 National Water Policy and the 2005-2015 National Water Sector Development Strategy. The partnership focused on putting into practice the ambitious reforms that called for prioritizing water allocations to first meet basic human needs, and second the needs of ecosystems, and in third place other needs.

Water scarcity has fuelled conflict in the Pangani basin. Of more than 500 local conflicts identified, five were selected as pilot sites. With support from IUCN, the PBWO and  local nongovernmental organization Pamoja, stakeholders negotiated solutions. These dialogues illustrated how conflicts in the basin could be reduced.

WANI instigated a series of intensive studies of the ecological, social and economic implications of changes in water flow regimes. Based on these studies, a set of scenarios contrasting various water allocations among agriculture, hydropower and the environment, including their economic impacts, was developed.  These scenarios were presented at workshops as a basis for dialogue about development options.

Although ultimate authority for water allocations rests with the Pangani Basin Water Board, the dialogue informed the board of stakeholder preferences. Both decision makers and stakeholders learned how to engage in the long-term process of using environmental flow information to negotiate water allocations. The Pangani demonstration project attracted interest both nationally and in the wider region. WANI’s Pangani project is being replicated in the Wami-Ruvu River basin with pilots planned for Uganda and Kenya.

The Pangani project is on-going through continued partner funding. A comprehensive Water Management Plan will be completed for the basin, contributing to longer term water resource security in the region.

Discover in the video below how the Pangani project works with communities, government and partners to share water resources more equitably amongst users and the natural environment: