Mainly funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the project is meant to ensure sustainable land management to alleviate land degradation, maintain ecosystem services and improve livelihoods.
According to Eng. Emmanuel Kalobelo, the Deputy Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Water and Irrigation, the US$27million project will be implemented in the Uluguru and Eastern Usambara mountains.
“These mountains, which give rise to the Ruvu and Zigi rivers respectively, form part of the Eastern Arc chain and are the amongst the most important catchment areas in the country,” Eng. Kalobelo noted at the project’s inception forum in Dar es Salaam yesterday.
The two catchments have potential water resources, land and forest reserves if they are unsustainably used, he said.
The catchment areas were in danger due to high levels of poverty pushed by population growth, inadequate infrastructure for providing clean water to communities along with inadequate capacity to enforce regulations, he said.
There is also a lack of co-ordination of interventions undertaken by various institutions administering various facilities in the catchments zones, he pointed out.
This has resulted in declining quantity and quality of water, undermining ecosystem services and functions and causing water shortage for natural ecosystem and economic activities.
Despite the fact that the country is endowed with sufficient freshwater resources to meet its current water needs, it faces complex challenges in balancing demand from multiple users, he said.
The users are chiefly domestic water for various needs as well as irrigation, apart from ecosystem needs or flora and fauna. Hydropower development is also part of ecological uses, with the water subsequently available for irrigation, mainly.
Pressure of population and agriculture in particular shows detrimental impact arising from diminished water flows compared to the past, he said.
“Unsustainable use of water is mirrored by unsustainable use of land coupled with unsustainable production practices,” he elaborated.
The top public official implored key players in the project to team up so that the project delivers expected outputs.
Maximillian Sereka, a hydrologist and project coordinator for watershed management, said that 27 districts in Morogoro, Tanga, Dar es Salaam and Coast regions are expected to actively take part in the project as Ruvu and Zigi catchments affect water provision levels in Dar es Salaam and Tanga.
Among those who depend on the two water sources, there are multiple users for instance in farming and livestock keeping, he said, pointing out that these pose a deadly threat to water supply for other users, like domestic and industrial users. “That is why this project comes in to balance the two segments,” he stated.
Farming and livestock keeping need to use water resources sustainably for current and future generations. Their use should not affect the water supply in which case catchments ought to be highly protected, he emphasized.
Currently, the catchments are overwhelmed by expansion of human settlements, commercial and subsistence agriculture, inappropriate agricultural practices, over stocking and over-harvesting of forest resources, he pointed out.
Sereka said the project is organized in two components –building institutional capacity and strengthening coordination amongst water basin authorities and other relevant stakeholders.
Implementing practical and sustainable land management interventions to address land degradation in forests, rangelands and farmlands is being mapped out, with the overall purpose of securing watershed services and improving livelihoods, the coordinator intoned.
The project is expected to cost US$27.65million of which over US$3.6million constitutes funding from GEF, US$2 million in co-financing from the UNDP and a further US$22million in co-financing from the government.