Last week, UNESCO-IHE and Tanzanian knowledge partners (University of Dar es Salaam, Nelson Mandela Africa Institute of Science and Technology, and Sokoine University) presented the results of a one-year assessment of the environmental water requirements of key reaches of the Kilombero River surrounding one of East Africa’s largest Ramsar sites.
The Kilombero Valley Floodplain Ramsar site harbors biodiversity of international importance and provides critical ecosystem goods and services to tens of thousands of people living along its margins, but its long term sustainability is threatened by major plans for increased consumptive upstream water use for irrigation and flow regulation by new hydropower dams. The applied research results of UNESCO-IHE and its partners provide specific river flow requirements to meet biodiversity and ecosystem service objectives recognized under Tanzania law and defined in consultation with basin stakeholders. The work was co-designed and co-developed with the Rufiji Basin Water Board, which has responsibility for allocating sufficient water to ecological needs prior to allocating water to agriculture or hydropower.
UNESCO-IHE Professor of Ecohydrology Michael McClain, who led the Kilombero study, notes that “UNESCO-IHE is emerging as a leading international institution in environmental flow science and practice”, with research, advisory services, and capacity development spanning Africa, Asia and Latin America. “The institute has the knowledge and established partnerships to have a significant impact on this essential element of sustainable water resources development worldwide.”