Back to Case Studies
Mara Basin Wetlands, Kenya - Tanzania
The Masura (or Mara) wetlands is a floodplain wetland at the Mara Basin before discharging its waters into the Lake Victoria. The wetlands are fed by inflows of Mara River and Lake Victoria water. ThusThe wetlands expand to a maximum area during the long rains due to high inflows while extending to about 45 km off the lake shores and shrink to the minimum area during the dry season. However, It is said that the wetland has been expanding probably due hydrogeomophic changes associated with sediment loads.

Geographic location:

Mara Bay is situated at the entrance to Musoma town and harbour on the eastern shore of Lake Victoria (Figures 1 and 2), at the mouth of the Mara river. Inland is the Masirori swamp, an extensive area of papyrus Cyperus papyrus. There are a number of islands at the entrance to the bay including Lukuba, Kyameto, Ngoche, Bugambwa and Myonyo. The shore in this area of the lake is generally well-settled with little natural vegetation. Musoma Bay stretches in an easterly direction for about 20 km in length with an average width of about five kilometers. Both the Bay and river have a rich assortment of floral and faunal biodiversity, providing a range of livelihoods. The Mara River, which is an important transboundary river with its headwaters in the Mau Forest Complex in Kenya and draining to Lake Victoria through Tanzania. Overall, the Mara River basin has a surface area of 13,835 km2, lies between latitudes 0°21’S and 1°54’S and longitudes 33°42’E and 35°54’E in Kenya (65%) and Tanzania (35%).
Enapuiyapui Swamp up catchment within the Mau Forest (Source of the Mara River)

Ecosystem services current status
Ecosystems services are benefits people derive from ecosystems (MEA, 2005). Natural wetlands sustain the livelihoods of many people both directly and indirectly by supplying provisioning (e.g. fibre, water, food, fuel wood, natural medicines), regulatory (e.g. flood control, water quality improvement), supporting (e.g. nutrient cycling, primary production), and cultural services (e.g., recreation, aesthetics, education, tourism). In Mara wetlands, majority of the local communities depend directly on the ES obtained from the wetlands for livelihood support (Kema, 2010). The ES include provision of freshwater, food, fiber, genetic materials, recreational activities, tourism, and education among others. Apart from provisioning and cultural ES, the Mara wetlands are recipients of accumulated effects of all the upstream activities such as agriculture, gold mining and soil erosion among others (Ng’umbi, 2009; Mayo et al., 2013).Thus, its capability to retain nutrients, heavy metals and sediments before water is discharged into Lake Victoria is highly valuable in enhancing water quality of the lake. However, quantitative information on such ecosystem services in the Mara wetlands is scanty and just like other wetlands in Lake Victoria Basin, there is a general decline in ES. The decline is due to population pressure, lack of or weak implementation framework for ecosystem management plans. Quantification of ES derived from the Mara wetlands is important in making decisions towards sustainable utilization of the wetland.
Media Center
Project Case Studies
Calendar of Events
Gender & Equity
Related Links
Partners Communication Platform
The project is funded by and is part of
WLE Nile and East Africa
Regional programme.