Basin Water Boards

Internal Drainage Basin

Water Resources Management is undertaken by the Basin Water Office which is under the Basin Water Board. The Board is chosen by the minister responsible for Water according to Water utilization (control and Regulation) Act no. 42 of 1974 and its subsequent amendments No. 10 of 1981, No 17 of 1989, No 8 of 1997. The basin is situated in the semi-arid region of Tanzania. The mean annual rainfall range from 500 mm/yr at Bahi to 900mm/yr in the highlands of Mbulu district. Rainfall varies greatly from year to year. The Internal Drainage Basin is described by rivers/streams draining into a group of inland water bodies (lakes) that are located around the north-central part of the country. The system, mainly of troughs and faults runs southward from lake Natron at the border with Kenya to central Tanzania in the Bahi depression and varies in width from 30-90 km. Total basin area on the Tanzanian side is about 153,800 km2. The major drainage systems in this basin includes:- Lake Eyasi System, which drains areas in North Tabora Region and East Shinyanga by the Wembere and Manonga river systems, Lake Manyara System and Bubu complex where important features are the Bubu and Bubu swamps. Several other small independent lakes and swamps with no outlet existing in this basin include Lake Basuto and Lake Natron. Internal drainage basins of Lake Eyasi, Manyara and Bubu Complex

Lake Tanganyika

In addition to the Malagarasi, there are smaller basins draining into L. Tanganyika. To the north west of Kigoma, the Luiche is an important river. The lower part of the river forms the Luiche Delta which floods often during the rainy season.
Other major tributaries are the Ruchugi River which drains the hilly landscape north of Kasulu, running in a southerly direction through a low, partly swampy, undulating landscape, before it enters the Malagarasi River at Uvinza.
The Ugalla River drains an area of approximately 52.000km2. and before the confluence with the Malagarasi, it passes through large areas of swamps and marshlands, forming the seasonal Lakes of Sagara and Ugalla.
The basin is dominated by the Malagarasi river system which is 130,000 km2. The main river, the Malagarasi originates in the mountainous area close to the border with Burundi at an altitude of 1750 m.a.m.s.l. from where it runs northeasterly through hilly and mountainous landscape and then southward into the Malagarasi Swamps. Its major tributaries, the Myowosi and Igombe Rivers meet the Malagarasi in the seasonal Lake Nyamagoma. The Ugalla and Ruchugi Rivers join the main river downstream of Lake Nyamagoma. The river then runs west, through the Misito Escarpment where it forms the rapids and waterfalls before entering Lake Tanganyika.
Lake Tanganyika Basin is situated in the Western Part of the country. All the catchments that drain in Lake Tanganyika constitute the Lake Tanganyika basin. The total catchment of Lake Tanganyika basin as a whole is 239.000km2 and the area of the lake is 32,000 km2. The land surface of the basin on Tanzania side is 151,000km2 which contributes 60% of the total runoff to Lake Tanganyika.


Wami/Ruvu Basin is one of the nine River and Lake Basins of Tanzania. The Basin board was established in July 2002 under Water Act No. 42 of 1974 of Water Utilization (Control and Regulations) with its amendments No. 10 of 1981. But the former Act has been repealed with recently Water Resources Management Act No. 11 of 2009. The Wami/Ruvu Basin is located in the eastern part of Tanzania and has a catchment area of 66,294 km2. The basin has two major rivers of Wami and Ruvu with an approximate area of 43,742 km2 and 17,789 km2 respectively and it has coastal rivers located to the Eastern part of the Basin flowing into Indian Ocean, most of which are located in Dar es Salaam Region.

The source of Wami River is Chandama highland (EL+1,511m) in the northern Tanzania and the catchment has an area of 43,742 km2 and 637 km long. The Wami River runs through Dodoma, Bahi, Chamwino, Mpwapwa, Kilosa, Mvomero and Bagamoyo districts and drains into the Indian Ocean.

On the other hand Ruvu River is originating from Mt. Uluguru with a catchment area of 11,789 km2 and 316 km long , It runs through Morogoro, Kibaha and Bagamoyo districts and drains out to the Indian Ocean. In charge of the basin operations is the Water Officer who is also the secretary of the Basin Water Board. The Head office of the Basin is located in Morogoro Municipality with other sub-offices in Dar es Salaam and Dodoma.

Lake Victoria Basin

The eastern part of the basin especially in highlands of Tarime, the rainfall is distinctively bimodal. In the south portion in Mwanza Region, the pattern is unimodal with a wet and dry season. The western part receives rainfall almost throughout the year with minimum in July.There are considerable variations in the average yearly rainfall over the Lake surface and the surrounding land area. Over the extreme eastern area of the Lake, rainfall is between 500 and 750 mm per year. Westward from this area rainfall increase to an annual average of over 2,000mm in areas around Bukoba and the Ssese Islands south of the town. To the south of the lake, in Mwanza Region the yearly average rainfall is 750 to 1100 mm and in the eastern part in Mara Region rainfall is between 750-1000mm increasing to 1600 on the highland areas of Tarime. The main rivers draining into the Lake include Kagera, Simiyu, Mbarageti, Grumet, Mara and Mori Rivers. The Lake is shared between Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. The most important feature of this basin is the Lake Victoria which is the largest in Africa and source of the White Nile. Lake Victoria lies across the equator between latitudes 0 31N and 3 54S, longitudes 31 18E to 34 54E with an average depth of 80m.

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Ruvuma and Southern Coast Rivers

The mean temperature in the coastal area is 260oC and that of the hinterland is 240oC. Annual and daily variations in temperature are small. Geomorphology: African, Post African and Congo/Coast land surfaces largely occupies the basin. Gondwana land surface occupy a small part near Songea. Coastal land surface covers Mtwara and Newala Districts. Post African land surface covers Nachingwea, Masasi and part of Tunduru Districts while the African land surface covers the rest of Tunduru, Songea and part of Mbinga Districts. Geology: Dominant rocks in the basin are Karoo and Usagaran crystalline limestone series of Masasi. The main catchments lie on an altitude between 305 – 710 m above mean sea level and drops almost gradually before entering the coastal plains. The Ruvuma River is shared by Tanzania and Mozambique and drains into Indian Ocean. It has the length of about 800 km of which about 650 km forms the border between Tanzania and Mozambique.

Rufiji Basin

The Rufiji Basin Water Office (RBWO) was established after the inauguration of the first Basin Water Board (RBWB) on the 14/9/1993. It is one of the nine river basins declared in 1992 by Minister responsible for water affairs. The Office has been established in accordance to the Act No.11 of 2009. The Rufiji Basin Water Office has its Headquarters in Iringa Municipal Town. RBWO is under the Ministry of Water and Irrigation. All its workers are employed by this MoW
There are ten members of the RBWB. They are drawn from public institutions and the private sector (including representatives of NGOs, Farmers and Livestock keepers, and women). The Minister of Water and Irrigation appoints the Chairman and the members of the Board.
The main objectives of the Office are in accordance to the National Water Law namely:
To act as principal executors of the Water Resources Management Act No.11 of 2009.
To carry out research pertaining to Water Resources Management in the
The Rufiji Basin covers an area of 183,791 square kilometers (about 20% of Tanzania). The river drains into the Indian Ocean. The Basin is situated between Longitudes 33o55E and 39o25ÔE and between Latitudes 5o35,S and 10o45S. The altitude of the basin rises from 0 at the Indian Ocean to above 2,960 meters above mean sea level (mamsl) in the highlands in Mbeya Region.
The land use in the Basin includes agriculture, mining, forestry, livestock keeping, fishing, wild life, navigation and human settlements.
The Rufiji Basin comprises of four major rivers namely:
The Great Ruaha River - 85,554 km2
The Kilombero River - 40,330 km2
The Luwegu River - 25,288 km2
The Rufiji (lower part of main river) - 32,619 km2
The climate in the basin differs from the coast to the highlands in the upper parts of the catchments. For instance, except for the lower parts of the basin, which experience two rainy seasons, the largest portion is characterized by unimodal rainfall. The Average rainfall varies from 400mm in the drier areas to 2000mm in wetter parts

Lake Rukwa Basin Board

Lake Rukwa Basin was established in May, 2004 by the previous Water Utilization (Control and Regulation) Act no. 42 of 1974 and its subsequent amendments Act No. 10 of 1981, Act No. 17 of 1989 and Act No. 8 of 1997. The Basin is an entity of government, mandated to manage (protect, develop and allocate) water resources within the basin as stipulated under Water Resources Management Act No. 11 of 2009.

The Lake Rukwa Basin is a fairly large basin which comprises parts of the administrative regions of Mbeya, Rukwa, and small parts of Tabora. It is an internal drainage system comprising the lake with a surface area of 2,300 km2. The Basin borders Lake Tanganyika Basin to the West and North, Zambia country to the South, Lake Nyasa Basin to the South East and Rufiji River Basin to the East. The entire basin has an area of 88,000 km2 with a population of 2.2 million (2002 census) whereas 19% live in urban and 81% live in rural areas. The population is expected to double by the year 2025.

Pangani Basin Water Board

Pangani Basin Water Board (PBWB) was established in July, 1991 in accordance with the Water Utilization (Control and Regulation) Act No. 42 of 1974 and its subsequent amendments. The Act has been repealed with Water Resources Management Act No. 11 of 2009. The Head Office of the Basin is located in Moshi Municipality in Kilimanjaro Region. The two other offices are situated in Arusha (along Wachagga Road) and Tanga (along Gofu Area)

Pangani Basin is a transboundary basin shared by Tanzania and Kenya; which covers 56,300 square kilometers where 5% of the area lies in Kenya. On Tanzanian side there are 20 District Councils falling within the administrative Regions of Manyara, Arusha, Kilimanjaro and Tanga. It includes two cities and one municipality of Arusha, Tanga and Moshi respectively.

The Basin is comprised of five sub basins; Pangani River (43,650 km2), Umba River (8,070 km2), Msangazi River (5,030 km2), Zigi and Coastal Rivers including Mkulumuzi (2,080 km2) which all independent drain to the Indian Ocean. The Pangani River Basin has two main tributaries, Kikuletwa and Ruvu Rivers, which join at Nyumba ya Mungu Dam, a large man-made water body with a surface area of 140 km2. The highest mountain in Africa is Mt. Kilimanjaro (5,985 masl) together with Mt. Meru (4,566 m.a.s.l) provide the source of Kikuletwa river flow, while the Ruvu, Mkomazi and Luengera Rivers drain part of Kilimanjaro, Pare and Usambara mountains and the springs emerged in Kenyan side. There are two unique lakes in the Basin namely Jipe and Chala which are transboundary water bodies. The Basin is also gifted with high potentials for groundwater. Only 5% of all the water used in the Basin is derived from groundwater sources. Boreholes yielding >100 m3/h have been drilled in the Kahe plains. The main economic activities in the basin are small scale fishing, tourism, hydroelectricity power production, mining, industry and irrigation. The Basin also comprises various National Parks and Controlled Areas for wildlife as well as tourism like Kilimanjaro, Arusha and Mkomazi National Parks; and Amani Nature Reserve. The Basin is rich in minerals and gemstones, there is a unique blue diamond (tanzanite) which can be found only in Tanzania.


The Pangani Basin Water Board is comprised of eleven members representing public institutions including catchment water committees, LGAs, UWSAs, MoW, private sector water users and water related sectors according to section 22 of the Act. The Chairperson and the members of the board are appointed by Minister responsible for water. According to the Water Resources Management Act of 2009, the Basin Water Board is financially and administratively autonomous body. The Water Officer is the Secretary to the Board.

Water resources assessment

Borehole data are collected from various sources including wells owned by basin itself, local communities, and private sectors. Data collected include completion drilling report which contains various parameters such as water level, yielding, draw down, lithological, pumping test, water quality, etc. Collected data are processed, analysed, stored (basin database i.e. NBDSS and spreadsheet) and disseminated. Also rainfall, flow and climatic data are stored in both hardcopy and softcopy (NBDSS software) format. These data used to produce different charts and maps like rainfall intensity duration curves and mean annual rainfall.

Water Allocation

There about 1,000 abstractions have been registered and got either provisional or final water use permits. Currently, water supply does not meet demand due to water being over-abstracted or illegally abstracted. There are procedures for registering water use permits according to the Water Act of No. 11 of 2009 and its regulations. Applications for permits are analyzed and processed based on hydrographic reports prepared from field visits, information obtained from relevant persons around the water abstraction point, and reports from the District and other authorities. Some of this information is requested via an announcement in the official gazette and advertisements on the District Authorities' office notice boards. Finally, the applications are forwarded to PBWB for approval or rejection. After approval, provisional or final permits will be issued. Rejected applications have chances to appeal.

Pollution Monitoring and Control

Monitoring is done to ensure that the quality of water in the water bodies confirms the recommended standards and the effluent discharged into the water bodies complies with the required effluent standards. This is done by collecting samples from different sampling stations in the rivers and at discharge points from industries.

Water quality and pollution control data are collected from both pre-determined and random sources by basin staff i.e. environmental engineer in collaboration with water quality laboratory staff and NEMC staff. Some parameters are measured on-site and others taken to the laboratory for further processing, analyzing, storing and disseminating.

Water Source Conservation and Protection

Catchment degradation in the basin is largely due to human activities, which are on the increase.These include: (i) illegal deforestation due to the cutting of trees for timber, fuel wood, building materials and agriculture; (ii) poor farming practices, mainly on steep slopes, close to riverbanks, and valley-bottom cultivation; (iii) bushfires which are set for various purposes; including by poachers and honey hunters, (iv) increase land settlement and urban centers and (v) overstocking grazing lands, having excessively large herds and uncontrolled movement.The fundamental problems associated with catchment degradation in the basin are soil erosion and accelerated run-off which augments sediment transport and silt accumulation in the rivers as well as in dams.

Interventions currently under consideration include: (i) a reforestation programme which will be determined following a study to identify the most acutely affected areas and the appropriate type of trees to be planted, and (ii) encouraging improved land use practices in collaboration with the departments of forestry, agriculture and land from LGAs and ministries.Controls over land use to restrict encroachment on important water catchments and groundwater recharge areas are under the way.Catchment pollution is addressed through awareness programs, training, and improved enforcement of the existing legislations.In cooperation with all related Ministries and local governments, all areas which need legal protection (both surface and groundwater) will be identified, demarcated and gazzetted as protected areas.In this context, the PBWB is essentially tried to coordinate all initiatives taken by other sectors related to water resources management.

Water-use conflict management

Water resources management is a multi-sectoral activity involving many players.One of the key principles in the management of water resources is to ensure the participation of all users or their representatives in planning, management and policy implementation at all levels.The involvement of all stakeholders is an integral part of the institutional framework for water management in the basin.The Water Resources Management Act provides the roles and responsibilities for the Basin Water Boards, Water User Associations and Catchment/Sub-Catchment Committees.These entities are centers for water use related conflict resolution. The PBWB is continuing to strengthen these centers through the following measures: (i) conduct situational analyses, (ii) establish and strengthen dialogue processes, and (iii) facilitate the formation and strengthening of Water User Associations.

Coordination of preparation for Integrated Water Resources Management and Development (IWRMD) Plan

The water policy aims at comprehensive, integrated and holistic management of water resources, with a basin as the unit for planning.It is intended that the planning process is participatory and fully considers all of the environmental, ecological and socio-economic concerns of basin stakeholders. Now we, anticipated planning process is constrained by data limitations and lack of institutional and managerial capacities to carry out the required work.PBWB will coordinate establishment of participatory planning procedures, provide guidance, coordination, and technical support for the actual preparation of the Integrated Water Resources Management and Development (IWRMD) plan by local stakeholders. The IWRMD Plan is based on a time period of 25 years, i.e. 2015-2040. Currently contract awarded to consultant and awaiting funds for execution.

Monitoring (trend and demand, compliance)

In order to regulate the use of water and more effectively manage the resources in the basin, it is necessary to have an accurate and reliable assessment of the resource throughout the basin with respect to its quantity and quality, and its reliability and dependability throughout the year.The board is under process to develop an information management system that would comprise (i) a management database system, (ii) tools for information products like DSS and (iii) a GIS database.The three systems will be mutually linked.

The basic functions of a management database system is to store, process, validate and analyze many types of multi-disciplinary data, including time series and spatial data on climate, surface water, groundwater, water quality, sediment, other natural resources, as well as related data such as water use permits and actual abstractions.The software should be accompanied by various related analytical tools such as rating curves development, low flow and base flow analyses, flood analysis, hydrograph analysis, statistical analysis and reservoir analysis.The board would then have the capacity to: (a) easily store/retrieve data, (b) compile and analyze the data, (c) estimate water supply-demand conditions, (d) monitor trends, and (e) report and map information.The limited existing data is stored in Excel formats and NBDSS Software.

The in-house (industrial and drilling contractors) monitoring system by is developed so that compliance by water users (both surface water and groundwater), polluters, and drillers is ensured. Violations will be investigated and reported to the Board for appropriate action.

Research and Development

Specific research activities are required to forecast trends in water resources availability and use, stakeholder roles and perceptions, as well as the recharge mechanisms of important groundwater aquifers in the basin.It is anticipated that the growing water scarcity in the basin will gradually move users to groundwater resources, and hence, the PBWB needs to study them in detail. Modeling and forecasting will need to be done in a short-term. Previous there were studies/researches on surface water and groundwater modeling which involved international and local (basin staff – in job training) experts for guiding future plan (preparation of IWRMD) and water allocation tool (DSS Tool).

Database management

The board is the entity charged with the responsibility of monitoring water availability and use throughout the basin.Data is collected from monitoring networks by basin staff.But the coverage of the basin monitoring network stations is insufficient which has hampered the data gathering effort.The data collected includes water levels, water quality and river flow measurements, and water use permits assessment data. The water resources data is stored at the PBWB in the following format: MS Excel, and in a software known as NBDSS, while water use permits data is maintained in MS Excel format.


Surface water

The status of river flow gauging stations showed that most of the stations are operational, although all of them needed either minor/ or major rehabilitation (see table below).

Basin is bimodal which receive two rainfall seasons, Masika (March – June) and Vuli (September – December) and its distribution is erratic and varies in space and time where there are more than 1000mm/year in mountainous areas while less than 600 mm/year in lowland areas.

Surface water available major rivers like Pangani whose major tributaries are Kikuletwa, Ruvu, Mkomazi, Soni, and Luengera. Other major rivers are Zigi, Umba, Mkulumuzi and Msangazi inlcluding coastal Rivers. There are also lakes (Jipe, Chala, Duluti, Karamba and Amboseli) and reservoirs (Mabayani, Nyumba ya Mungu and Kalemawe).


Main recharges of groundwater are from rainfall and glacial melt from Mt. Kilimanjaro and available in discrete and not continuous aquifers. Major discrete aquifers are alluvial sediments rocks -10%, sedimentary rocks – 4%, volcanic rocks – 1% and metamorphic rocks – 85%. Range of yield for boreholes drilled are from 10 – 800 m3/hour while their depth vary from 20 – 200m. Also numerous springs available around Mt. Kilimanjaro, Mt. Meru; and Pare and Usambara Mts. Groundwater quality generally good with exception in some volcanic rock areas where fluoride content exceeds 1.5 mg/l.

Water quality

Monitoring is done to ensure the quality of the water in the water bodies confirms the recommended standards as set by Tanzania Bureau Standard (TBS). There is also a monitoring system to regulate/monitor the effluent discharged into the water bodies complies with the required effluent standards. But currently there is about 34 discharge permits (provisional) have been issued in the Basin.

Water demand

Current water supply does not meet demand due to water being over-abstracted (from the respective sources). Approximately 1,000 abstractions have been registered and have got either provisional or final water use permits. Basin is a water stressed basin whose water availability is 1,200 m3/capita/year which is less than 1,700 m3/capita/year (NAWAPO of 2002). Major uses in the basin are domestic (2 cities – Arusha and Tanga; and Moshi Municipality & Rural areas), Environment, Irrigation, three (3) Hydropower Plants (total of 97MW which is equivalent to 17% of national grid), Industrial/Mining, Fisheries, Tourism, Pastoralism and Navigation & recreation.


Pangani River Basin Management Project

Pangani River Basin Management Project (PRBMP) which ended on 2011 generated technical information and developed participatory forums to strengthen Integrated Water Resources Management in the Pangani Basin. This includes mainstreaming climate change adaptation and supporting the equitable provision and wise governance of freshwater for livelihoods and environment for current and future.

Water Sector Development Programme

Tanzania’s Development Vision 2025 aims at achieving an absence of abject poverty and attaining a high quality of life for all people by 2025. Water resource management, water supply and sanitation features prominently in this Development Vision. Intrinsic to these overall targets, are the objectives of equity of access, water management capacity, and proper maintenance of water and sanitation systems, use of environmentally sound technologies, and effective water tariffs, billing and revenue collection mechanisms

The Tanzanian Government is presently implementing the Water Sector Development Program (WSDP, 2006 – 2025) with support from development partners. The WSDP targets four areas in the water sector, namely: (i) Water Resources Management and Development (WRMD), (ii) Community Water Supply and Sanitation (CWSS), (iii) Commercial Water Supply and Sewerage (CWSS), and (iv) Sector Institutional Strengthening and Capacity Building.

The National Water Sector Development Strategy (NWSDS, 2006) sets out the strategy for the National Water Policy (NAWAPO, 2002) implementation and in turn guides the formulation of the sub-sectoral investment programmes as inputs into the WSDP. The sector’s strategy has guided the preparation of the three sub-sector programmes: the Water Resources Management and Development Programme (WRMDP), Community Water Supply and Sanitation Programme (CWSSP) and the Commercial Water Supply and Sewerage Programme (CWSSP).

Global Water Initiative – East Africa

The Global Water Initiative (GWI) was funded by the Howard G. Buffet Foundation. It addresses the declining state of world's supply of fresh water and the lack of access to clean water services by the world's poorest people. The initiative focuses on developing partnership amongst key organizations in three geographic clusters: Eastern Africa, Western Africa and Central America.Organizations currently involved in the initiative are Action against Hunger (AAH), Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere (CARE), Catholic Relief Services (CRS), International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Oxfam America and SOS-Sahel UK.

In Tanzania, GWI was being designed, coordinated and implemented by the IUCN, CARE and CRS in collaboration with their respective local partners namely PBWB, SAIPRO and the Catholic Diocese of Same. The goal of the initiative is to insure that, “poor rural communities in arid and semi-arid zones reduce their vulnerability to water-related shocks and improve their quality of life through Integrated Water Resource Management”. The initiative has three Strategic Objectives (SOs) and one crosscutting SO. These are Good Governance, Sustainable Multiple Uses of Water, Risk Management and Learning, Knowledge Management & Dissemination.

Climate Change Development Project

Climate Change Development Project (CCDP) is a Pan-African project funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland and implemented by IUCN. The project aims to ensure that Climate Change related policies and strategies lead to adaptation activities that emphasize the role of forests and water resources in supporting people’s livelihoods and associated farming systems. This was done by providing the knowledge, tools, and capacity required to reduce vulnerability and enhance adaptive capacity to climate variability and change at the local and national levels.

Joint Cross Border Integrated Water Resources Management Programme in the Lake Chala - Jipe and Umba River Ecosystem; Tanzania –Kenya (A Framework for Sustainable Development)

Joint Cross Border Integrated Water Resources Management Programme on issues of transboundary waters (Lake Chala –Jipe and River Umba Ecosystems), including the entire Kilimanjaro ecosystem is based on the inter-linkages found within the system. Addressing the issues individually and separately (Tanzania alone or Kenya alone) would not provide any tangible results.

The trigger for the dialogue is based on the interest shown by the Pangani Basin Water Board in Tanzania and the Coast Development Authority in Kenya who held joint meetings on the utilization of shared waters of the lakes Chala and Jipe. The two institutions were seeking for possibilities of utilizing the water resources of the two lakes for various socio-economic activities and therefore held the first joint meeting on the issue at the CDA offices in Mombasa, Kenya in 1994 during which the need for a Management Needs Assessment of the Jipe Watershed was agreed. The workshop was supported by The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). A study on Management Needs of the Watershed and Waters of Lake Jipe was carried out in 1995-1996 both in Kenya and Tanzania with financial support from IUCN. By then several meetings were held with various supports financially and currently the coordination of these meeting is through Lake Victoria Basin Commission (LVBC).