Vulnerability and adaptation in the Mara River Basin

The Mara River Basin (MRB), home to over a million people across Kenya and Tanzania, also supports critical wildlife populations in the renowned conservation areas of the Masai Mara National Reserve and Serengeti National Park. The basin is facing critical pressures from population growth, economic development and the land use changes these bring, posing significant challenges for water resources management, livelihoods and wildlife. Climate variability and change will act as a stress multiplier to these pressures, further increasing the vulnerability of MRB’s inhabitants and ecosystems. This climate vulnerability assessment from the USAID-funded Adaptation Thought Leadership and Assessments (ATLAS) project explores the risks to the MRB from climate variability and change, and how those risks affect its water resources and water security. Starting with an overview of the basin’s ecological and social dynamics, this report then highlights pressures on water resources, outlines the institutional structures that govern water resources management and offers insight into the MRB’s current and future climate vulnerability. The report concludes with recommendations for actions regarding water allocation across three key areas to address the risks that the basin faces: strengthening governance and institutions; improving information collection and dissemination; and piloting interventions.