Towards an ecohydrology-based restoration of the Usangu wetlands and the Great Ruaha River, Tanzania

Abstract

An open channel flow model, calibrated against field data, suggests that cattle intrusion in the eastern Usangu wetlands, as well as both dry and wet weather irrigation upstream, are responsible for the seasonal drying out of the Great Ruaha River (GRR) downstream. This human-induced change has severe socio-economic implications downstream, including hindering hydroelectricity production, as well as a devastating impact on the Ruaha National Park (RNP) ecosystem that is now shifting from wet tropics to dry tropics. To ensure sustainable development, governance is urgently needed for the Usangu catchment in a way that is compatible with ecohydrology principles for the sustainable use of water resources. In order to do that, perennial flow must be restored to the GRR. For this to happen this study suggests that all the livestock must be removed from the eastern Usangu wetlands and dry weather irrigators must return at least 25% (∼4 m3 s−1) of the water to the river.

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Correspondence to E. Gereta.

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Mtahiko, M.G.G., Gereta, E., Kajuni, A.R. et al. Towards an ecohydrology-based restoration of the Usangu wetlands and the Great Ruaha River, Tanzania. Wetlands Ecol Manage 14, 489–503 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11273-006-9002-x

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Keywords

  • Cattle
  • Drought
  • Flood
  • Irrigation
  • Tanzania
  • Wetlands
  • Wildlife