The Times of Tanzania
Eastern Africa News Network, Breaking News Tanzania

This is how the Great Ruaha River is being brought back to life through weirs structures

Efforts are in place to restore the Great Ruaha back to its former natural state of gushing currents of water, after the river experienced episodes of total drying up in recent years.

Authorities at Ruaha National Parks in association with environment experts have now come up with solutions that will see the large water body return to its former status of a river with a consistent and sustainable flow of water throughout the year.

The efforts include establishing water retaining weirs along the river’s upper stream that will trap water naturally from either the rain, precipitation and nearby streams.

Acting as reservoirs, the weirs will then gradually release the water into Great Ruaha and maintain the river’s usual flow throughout the year, come rain or shine.

The River Between: Cutting across the National Park, the Great Ruaha is lifeline to thousands of wild animals (Photo by Marc Nkwame)

Apparently the river happens to be the lifeline to the Tanzania’s second biggest National Park, Ruaha, measuring around 20,000 square kilometers and which is home to more than 15,000 elephants, essentially the largest population of jumbos on the continent.

The Tanzania National Parks’ Senior Assistant Conservation Commissioner Godwell Ole Meing’ataki, who is the Commanding officer for the Ruaha National Park, explained that other initiatives to save the Great Ruaha River, including restoring its waters original course.

For instance some people had even erected a concrete wall to divert the course of water fall into their farmes for irrigation.

The works to restore the river’s natural flow have been undertaken, but the climate-driven scorching heat is still evaporating the waters away, though anticipated rains may soon solve this problem.

“The construction of weirs will help to retain rain water, from anticipated downpours, then gradually release the same into the river and ensure constant flow of water throughout the year,” explained the Senior Assistant Commissioner of Conservation.

SACC Meing’atak revealed that a large weir is to be built at Ngiriama catchment area and three smaller ones will be erected at Telekimboga, Nyamakuyu A’ and Nyamakuyu B.’

The same project, according to Godwell, includes the construction of four charcoal dams at Ngalambula, Igohungika, Ikowoka and Illalangulu.

That is in addition to drilling three deep boreholes at Mdonya, Mbangi and Nyamakifuna.

Discharging 140 cubic metres of water per second, during normal days, the Great Ruaha is about 475 kilometres long, with 164 kilometers of the river passing through the National Park.

The Great Ruaha’s tributary basin has a catchment area of 68,000 square kilometres. It is reported that the river supplies 22 percent of the total flow of the Rufiji catchment system.

Human activities upstream as well as effects of climate change have been taking a toll on the Great Ruaha, whose flow was reduced to a trickle with dire consequences for the fish, hippos and crocodiles in the river.

The river is the lifeline of Ruaha National Park with plants and wildlife species depending on its water flow.

At least 20,000 buffaloes and nearly 1700 types of vegetation depend on the soil which gets watered from the river and its tributaries.

Economically the Ruaha is the force behind electricity generation at the Mtera and Kidatu dams downstream, supplying hydro-electricity power to most parts of Tanzania.

Even the country’s largest reservoir, the Nyerere Hydroelectric dam, depends on River Ruaha for 20 percent of its water intake.

As the world celebrates 77 years of the United Nations during the UN Day 2023, the event continues to recognize the UN Champions of the Earth through the annual awards issued to people and businesses that are helping to tackle the world’s most pressing environmental issues.

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