Ten Years of the Drying up of the Great Ruaha River: Institutional and Legal Initiatives to Manage Water.


This is the tenth year since the Great Ruaha River (GRR) dried up in December 1993 for about a month, in the Ruaha National Park, within a stretch of about 75 Km between the Ihefu swamp and the Mtera dam. This has raised a lot of domestic and international concerns from politicians, economists and environmentalists. Since then there has been several direct institutional responses towards the same, and the indirect or coincidental institutional development that have also been linked with the drying up of the Great Ruaha River. This paper gives an overview of the Great Ruaha River, background to the drying up, and the institutional responses. The paper focuses on the organizational and legislative development and local institutional responses and their effects in water management at large. The paper specifically reviews the gate closure program, water managers’ meeting, introduction of water user fees and linking the fees with water rights as well as a series of key policies and acts that have been revised and/or enacted during or after the drying up of the Great Ruaha River. Finally, the paper asks some fundamental questions regarding the objectives of water management in the GRR and recommends a way forward for institutional and legal responses.


Paper Presented at Ruaha+10 Seminar, 11 & 12 December 2003, Morogoro, Tanzania. 24 pp. (paper) + 3 pp. (powerpoint)

Published 1 January 2003