The Pangani River Basin Management Project, implemented by IUCN and partners, has recently been included as a case study in the TEEB report. The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) study is a major international initiative drawing attention to the global economic benefits of biodiversity.
The Pangani case study was included in the TEEB report to highlight the growing costs of biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation, and to draw together expertise from the field to enable practical actions.
“The Pangani project highlights the importance of environmental flow assessments and economic analysis of ecosystem services for improving the management of the river basin, while at the same time communicating greater lessons in the value and contribution of ecosystems and biodiversity to human wellbeing” said Katharine Cross, Water and Wetlands Programme Coordinator Ad interim for East and Southern Africa.
In East Africa, the Pangani River Basin covers 44,000 km² and is home to 2,6 million people. Along its 500 km course from the slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro and Mt. Meru to the Indian Ocean, the Pangani River is a lifeline for biodiversity, people and industry. The river provides ecosystem services that are fundamental for the economic development of the region.
Population growth and increasing pressure on land for economic use is leading to an over-exploitation of water resources, increasing demand and competition for water amongst different users and ecosystems. Furthermore, increasing loss and degradation of forests and wetlands in the basin increases water-stress, robbing the basin of essential ecosystem services such as water purification and erosion control.
In a business-as-usual-scenario, the future of the basin to meet the needs of all stakeholders is in doubt. The need for a strategy for the sustainable management of water resources, forests, and wetlands across the entire Pangani River Basin led to the creation of the Pangani River Basin Management Project (PRBMP).
The Pangani Basin Water Board is implementing the project with technical assistance from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the Netherlands Development Organization (SNV) and the local NGO PAMOJA. The project is financially supported by the IUCN Water & Nature Initiative, the Government of Tanzania, the European Commission through a grant from the EU-ACP Water Facility, and the Global Environment Facility through UNDP. The project has helped generate scientific information about the river basin and developed participatory forums open to all stakeholders in a bid to aid in decision-making and consensus-building for the sustainable management of the basin.
An Integrated Flow Assessment (IFA) shed light on the hydrology of the river basin, the flow related to nature and functioning of the river ecosystem, and the links between the ecosystem and the social and economic values of the river’s resources. Information generated from the IFA was used to organize social, ecological and economic knowledge of the basin to aid future planning and management of its water resources. This was further achieved through the exploration of different scenarios and pathways, considering possible changes in water allocations to industry, agriculture, and ecosystems.
This IFA exercise demonstrated that all scenarios involved trade-offs, and that no single scenario was beneficial in terms of all three criteria – economic, social and ecological. However, useful recommendations were; improve efficiency of irrigation systems, optimize flow patterns for improving river health, and explore options around managing hydropower production which can improve environmental flows downstream. The focus now shifts to river basin stakeholders and the government to agree on a sustainable management strategy.
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