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Participatory Water Resource Monitoring Pangani Basin Water Management, Tanzania

Water user groups

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A Water User Association (WUA) is an organisation for water management made up of a group of small and large-scale water users, such as irrigators, who pool their financial, technical, material, and human resources for operation and maintenance of a local water system, such as a river or water basin. The WUA is usually run out of a non-profit structure and membership is typically based on contracts and/or agreements between the members and the WUA (IWMI and SIC ICWC, 2003).

Pangani is a water-stressed basin (defined as <1,200 m3of water per person per year) and climate change is expected to greatly exacerbate this condition. Tanzania’s Initial National Communication (INC) predicts temperature rises, rainfall decreases, and evaporation increases in the Pangani Basin, which together are expected to result in a 6 to 10 per cent decrease in the annual flow. River flows have already declined to the point that seawater intrudes about 20 km upstream from the estuary.  

Agriculture is the biggest user of water with over 50,000 hectares of fields irrigated in the Pangani Basin. This includes large commercial estates (coffee and sugar), flower farming and small-scale mixed cropping. Water use efficiency among irrigation systems is very low (often less than 15 per cent). Livestock are also kept throughout the basin, including dairy cattle, goats and sheep. Other goods derived from the basin include aquatic plants, food and medicinal plants and fish, crocodiles, hippos and water birds that are harvested for sale. The supply of all these goods is affected by the quantity and quality of runoff in the catchment. Conflicts are emerging between various water users. As the effects of climate change cumulatively increase, escalated conflicts, environmental degradation, and loss of livelihoods are more likely.

The Pangani River Basin project has promoted a strong decentralisation policy in which WUAs participate through Catchment Forums where water users can discuss and analyse local water management issues, have a voice in the allocation of water and negotiate equitable solutions to water conflicts. Participatory water resource monitoring has been implemented via Environmental Flow Assessments which provide technical information to water managers on the water allocations necessary to maintain environmental goods and services.These technical studies describe the social, economic and environmental implications of various alternative water allocation scenarios in order to find the optimal balance among competing uses.

Implementing Partners: 

The project (see project website) is implemented by Pangani Basin Water Board (PBWB) with technical assistance from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), The Netherlands Development Organisation (SNV) and the local NGO PAMOJA.

PRBMP is co-funded by the Government of Tanzania, IUCN Water and Nature Initiative (WANI), the European Commission (EU) through a grant from the EU-ACP Water Facility and the Global Environment Facility (GEF) through UNDP.


Stage of Project: 
Main activity and output: 

The PRBMP has produced valuable information to guide the PBWB in developing water resources which support nature as well as people and their livelihoods. In addition, the project is generating technical information through a groundwater assessment to support the development of the IWRM plan.

Based on Tanzanian decentralization policy, in which mandates and management responsibilities are devolved to lower levels of governance, the water policies and legislation recommended that water be managed at the basin level and (sub) catchment Water User Associations be established. The PRBMP is designing and piloting the establishment of the Kikuletwa
catchment Water Users Association in the Pangani River Basin. The process is empowering communities and local government to manage conflicts over water resources allocation between upstream and downstream, and between different users such as farmers and pastoralists.
The establishment of catchment associations is considered as a mechanism that will enhance conflict resolution in Pangani basin which is facing challenges of increasing water demands, straining an already overstretched water resource that is also being impacted by climate change. The association aims to reconcile these demands and raise awareness on the importance of integrated water resources management that balances the demands of all users.
Expected impact: 
State of the art climate modeling of the Basin is being undertaken with international experts. This is in parallel with community level vulnerability assessments using a variety of tools.
Information about costs: 

Total funding for the project was US$ 4,783,336 between 2003 and 2010.

Lessons learned: 
Because of the delays caused by attempting to obtain acceptable climate-change and other data, the project extended over several years with some large gaps between activities. Such a project loses momentum, risks losing both international and national team members, wastes time because old ground has to be re-covered when activities start again, extends even further than planned because of the difficulty of re-establishing timetables with project members now working elsewhere, and risks losing the interest of stakeholders such as the PBWO and its Board and Ministry. A sequence of shorter projects with well-defined end points would have been preferable.