Kenya and Tanzania: Living on the Mara River, together | Global Ideas | DW | 10.09.2019

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Global Ideas

Kenya and Tanzania: Living on the Mara River, together

Scientists are gathering data on the Mara River to ensure it can continue to support life, all the way from its source in Kenya to its mouth in Tanzania.

Tanzania: A divided river

Project aim: To provide social and scientific data on water use along the Mara River to form the basis of a transboundary water allocation plan and water treaty

Project implementation: Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)

Project partner: Nile Basin Initiative

Project funding: Financed from sources including the German Federal Environment Ministry's International Climate Initiative, which is supporting the project with 6 million euros ($6.6 million)

Project area: Kenya and Tanzania

Project duration: October 2015 to March 2021

The Mara River is essential for lives and livelihoods in both Kenya and Tanzania. But flowing across the border, it also represents a source of potential conflict. From dam projects to pollution from agriculture, what happens to the Mara in Kenya impacts those reliant on it downstream in Tanzania.

The solution? A cross-border water management plan. The two countries will negotiate their terms and access, but first they need to know: Who uses the water? How? Where? When? And, essentially, how much?

The Nile Basin Initiative — an intergovernmental partnership of 10 Nile Basin countries — and GIZ are working with scientists to answer these questions. 

They are also interviewing communities along the Mara to understand the role it plays in their lives — providing drinking water, fish and a place to bathe. And it's not just communities that are reliant on the river, which also supports a wealth of biodiversity in surrounding wetlands.

The project's findings will lay the foundations for a water treaty to ensure people and wildlife on both sides of the border can continue to rely on the Mara's life-giving waters. 

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