For nearly a year, the level of Lake Tanganyika has been rising and staying at a high level. From Bujumbura to Mpulungu in Zambia, the situation is the same: flooding, destruction of homes and infrastructure, the disappearance of beaches and destruction of vegetation. In addition to material and human damage, fishing activities are also affected as many fishing villages and landing sites have been heavily impacted.
In light of this complex and destructive phenomenon, the Lake Tanganyika Water Management project implemented by Enabel and funded by the European Union, in collaboration with the Lake Tanganyika Authority have decided to invest in the formulation of a new project dedicated to quantitative monitoring of the lake’s water resources with climate change. The project’s formulation was initiated on 12 January 2021 and is involving the SHER Consultant (Namur, Belgium), the Tanganyika Lake Authority and the Latawama project.
The objective is to have a modern and effective monitoring system to effectively know the water supplies and losses that define the lake’s level. Monitoring, prediction, and warning tools will be then developed for riparian countries and the for the populations thereof.
This project will also aim at developing the knowledge level of Research Institutions and Universities in neighbouring countries.
The level of Lake Tanganyika fluctuates naturally by 0.8 m depending on the season. These fluctuations result from a change in the balance between water inputs (rainfall at lake level and outflows from lake tributaries) and water losses (evaporation at lake level and outflows at Lukuga River in Kalemie, DRC).
Since the 19th century, the lake level has experienced significant fluctuations with a maximum lake level of 783.6 m in 1878 and a minimum of 772.5 m in 1902. The observed amplitude is 11 m. The last significant rise in lake level was 1964/65 with a level of 776.5 m.
Long periods of lake level rise and decrease can cause the lake level to deviate durably from the average of 772.7 m. Generally, the same phenomenon can also be observed in other lakes in East Africa.