Skip to main content

One of the most awe-inspiring spectacles of the natural world has to be that of wildebeest braving steep cliffs and crocodiles as they cross the Mara river as part of their annual migration through the Serengeti-Maasai Mara ecosystem. Many other species depend on the river’s water, as do human communities living and working within the Mara river basin.

The Mara river rises in the Mau forests of Kenya, flows through world-famous savannah rangelands; in Tanzania it forms a floodplain wetland – the Mara wetland – before discharging into Lake Victoria in Tanzania. Around 65% of the river basin is located in Kenya and 35% in Tanzania.

There is increasing demand on the Mara’s water resources, and more and more water is being abstracted from the river. Lack of coordinated water resources management between Kenya and Tanzania, and the lack of an agreement for the transboundary flow of the Mara river, compounds this problem. Unless an agreement is negotiated soon there is a real danger that the cross-border dry season flow will be reduced to a trickle, potentially leading to an international dispute.

Water allocation is the process of deciding who is entitled to take or use available water resources. It involves understanding how much water is available and then negotiating the amount each water user can access – now and under future development scenarios. Part-funded by the HSBC Water Programme, WWF-Kenya instigated the development of a transboundary Water Allocation Plan (WAP).

Read the case study (2017) PDF describing this work