Members of Parliament from three East African countries recently visited the Pangani River Water Basin in Tanzania to get an insight into the challenges facing the basin’s ecosystem as a case study in integrated water resources management.
Over the years, the effects of human activity and climate change have affected the basin’s ecosystem and livelihoods of local populations. Lake Jipe, a cross border water resource shared by Kenya and Tanzania, is faced with enormous problems which include reduced runoff, increasing siltation, decreasing water levels and quality, and advancing wetland plants that threaten its existence. For its part, Nyumba ya Mungu, a man-made lake built for the purpose of generating hydro-electric power and other economic activities, has borne the brunt of extreme climatic events such as flooding and droughts, which have affected its water resources.
The objective of the visit, involving eight MPs from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and the East African Legislative Assembly, and other stakeholders including NGOs, journalists and government departments was to raise awareness of the status of water resources in the region, highlight efforts being made to restore the basin’s ecosystem and implement integrated water resources management and identify gaps which need to be filled with a view to promoting sustainable water use and livelihoods in East Africa.
The MPs expressed concern that local communities did not have access to potable water and electricity despite their proximity to the sources and called for a deliberate effort to ensure the services benefited the people.
In view of the integrated water resources management objectives, the MPs called for the coordination of different government departments whose activities affect the environment in order to ward off conflicting decisions and enhance transparency.
Apart from discussions, field visits were organized to Nyumba ya Mungu Dam and Lake Jipe. The participants also met and exchanged views with Regional Commissioner for Kilimanjaro, Hon. Mohamed A. Babu, who expressed concern that the degradation of the basin’s ecosystem would have a far-reaching impact on the livelihoods of local populations.
The MPs promised to speak about environmental issues in Parliament as a way of curbing degradation and encouraging sustainable practices and requested the IUCN Eastern Africa Regional Programme to facilitate a planning meeting to develop a joint strategy to address environmental challenges facing the region.
For more information contact:
Grace J. Chepkwony, Grace.Chepkwonyiucn.org