photo credit: alert-conservation

The East African Wild Life Society (EAWLS) has received an alert from Serengeti Watch, one of our conservation partners in Tanzania, that authorities in Kenya have proposed the building of dams along the Mara River and its tributaries.

According to the information from the Alliance of Leading Environmental Researchers and Thinkers (ALERT), a group of highly respected academics and writers, Kenya has proposed major new dams on the Mara River or its key tributaries.

The report says that the proposed dams include; a 10-metre high Norera Dam, mainly for irrigation and a 65 meter-high Amala Dam, deep in the Mau Forest, mainly for hydropower. One or two dams (30 to 70 meters high each) on the Nyangores River, a key Mara tributary, mainly for irrigation. Tanzania has also proposed the Borenga Dam, though it would occur further downstream on the Mara, past the Serengeti.

The Serengeti ecosystem -- made up of the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania, Masai Mara Reserve in Kenya, and the adjoining game-controlled areas -- has only one year-round river, the Mara. During the driest periods, aside from a few scattered springs, the Mara River is the only source of life-giving water for Serengeti's migrating wildlife -- the vast herds of wildebeest, other megafauna, clouds of migrating birds, and the big predators whose sheer numbers darken the African plain.

EAWLS has also learnt that, UNESCO-IHE is working together with Kenya’s Water Resources Management Authority (WRMA) on the Water Allocation Plan (WAP) of the Mara basin. A detailed study of the reserve flow is also part of the WAP. The intention is to come up with a complete WAP report to help WRMA and others to evaluate the effect of any proposed dams.

 

“As this is a potentially important transboundary issue that could have immense negative impact on the Mara-Serengeti Ecosystem, EAWLS is individually and collectively (with Serengeti Watch, KWCA and MMWCA) gathering more information to ascertain the true situation from the relevant Kenyan authorities, including WRMA and regional institutions,” said Julius Kamau, EAWLS Executive Director. “As a transboundary issue there is a high likelihood that the East African Community agreement could be invoked to ensure a joint approval/or disapproval by both the Kenyan and Tanzanian authorities.

 

EAWLS intends to provide updates on this issue as more information becomes available.

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