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Miombo Zone

The Miombo Socioeconomic zone occupies most of the north central part of the basin. The area is situated between 1,000 to 1,500 m above sea level and receives mean annual rainfall between 900 to 1,000 mm. The predominant soil type is sandy loam with moderate to good drainage. The area is largely uninhabited, dominated by vast miombo woodlands, and is widely infested with tsetse flies. The zone is the most sparsely populated in the basin comprising less than 5% of the total basin population.

Cultivation takes place in a few isolated and densely populated settlements scattered in the plains. Tobacco is a popular commercial crop grown in isolated tobacco complexes. Other crops grown, mostly for subsistence, include maize, beans, cassava, groundnuts, and sunflower. Bee keeping is a popular activity in the plains with honey and bee wax being an important source of household income in most habited areas. Livestock keeping is also practiced in settled areas though on a small scale. Bee keeping is a popular socioeconomic activity, especially in Chunya and Mlele Districts.


The abundance of the ‘miombo’ type of vegetation creates favorable conditions for beekeeping at a commercial scale. It is estimated that about 20 tons of honey and 5 tons of wax are harvested annually. Lack of licensing procedures makes it difficult to keep track of the beekeepers that are permitted to trap bees and collect honey. The beekeepers rely on traditional methods for the collection of honey, and in most cases use fire to inactivate the bees. Occasionally, these fires run out of control and cause environmental degradation .

A significant part of the zone falls within protected areas including game reserves, game controlled areas, open areas, and forest reserves. The zone is home to the Rungwa Game Reserve which is part of the Rungwa-Kizigo-Muhesi ecosystem, covering an area of about 16,000 km2. Only a small part (about 12%) of this area falls within the basin. The Rungwa-Kizigo-Muhesi ecosystem has three different game reserves (Rungwa, Kizigo, and Muhesi) which are jointly managed as a single biodiversity conservation unit to protect important catchments of national significance. The area is part of the wider Rungwa-Ruaha ecosystem, an area of national and international biodiversity conservation significance. The game reserve, which is popular for trophy hunting, is home to a wide variety of wildlife including among others lions, leopards, buffalos, zebras, elephants, impalas, and more than 300 species of birds. Adjacent to Rungwa Game Reserve is the recently gazetted Biti Game Reserve and several forest reserves located in Chunya district, the major ones being Lukwati, Patamela, Mbiwe, Mwipa, Kipembawe, and North Lupa.

The zone is predominantly rural and is characterized by poor socioeconomic infrastructure. All of the agriculture in the zone is rainfed with no known irrigation taking place in the zone. There is no irrigation being practiced in the zone and there are no industries. The main water use conflict is between the Rungwa Game Reserve and the neighboring 34 villages. Villagers encroach on the Game Reserve, especially during the dry season, in search of water and pasture for their livestock and they also carry out illegal hunting.

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Lake Rukwa Basin Facts:

Coverage: Mbeya, Rukwa, Katavi, small parts of Tabora and Singida
Total Area:
88,000 km2.:
25C to 30C.:
Annual mean rainfall:
2.2 million:


Policy and Laws

The law that governs the management of water in the aspects of utilisation in the country can be traced way back during the colonial rule; under the German and the British rule.

The last Ordinance before independence was No. 3 of 1959, which was repealed by the Act no. 42 of 1974 Water Utilisation (Control and Regulation) and its subsequent amendments Act No. 10 of 1981, Act No. 17 of 1989 and Act No. 8 of 1997.

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