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ATPS Programme on Integrated Trans Boundary River Management Policy Development (INTREPID)

Program Duration: 01 April 2007 31 June 2008
Program Contacts: Dr. Kevin Urama, Executive Director, ATPS
Contact e-mails:,
Contract number: INCO-CT-2007-043784

Project Summary:

Livelihoods in semi-arid areas depend upon a biological resource base underpinned by access to water. With increasing human populations and water stress come pressures to harness water resources for ‘higher economic value’ uses, instead of an integrated approach that includes provisions for ecosystem conservation and livelihood sustainability. Nowhere is this lack of integration more prevalent than in the semi-arid regions of Africa.

The linkages between Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM), Sustainable Livelihoods (SL) and Conservation of Biological Diversity (CBD) are poorly known. River basin management, biodiversity conservation, and livelihood programmes in Africa have evolved independently, with often overlapping and/or conflicting goals and responsibilities. The result has been persistent intra- and trans-boundary conflicts; leading to increasing poverty and declines in biological diversity.

This EC-funded project, which uses the Mara river basin system in Kenya and Tanzania as its case study, addresses this disparity by recognizing that IWRM, CBD and SL are irretrievably interconnected and that water management and policy initiatives focusing on individual aspects are likely to fail. It aims, therefore, to resolve this gap by initiating and promoting inter-disciplinary and international collaboration to integrate sustainable water resource management, biodiversity conservation and livelihoods using the Mara river basin as a case study. It provides a platform for policy makers, practitioners and researchers to consolidate expertise on African IWRM systems and draw on experiences from the implementation of the EU-Water Framework Directive (WFD) to promote and reinforce the vital synergies between IWRM, CBD and SL.

Project Objectives

The broad objective of this Specific Support Action (SSA) is to promote inter-disciplinary, interregional and international knowledge sharing, networking and collaboration between a range of stakeholders; namely: policy makers, researchers, government organisations, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and Community Based Organisations (CBOs) with a specific remit and or interest in the sustainable and integrated management of water, biological diversity and livelihoods in semi-arid Africa. The project focused on the Mara river basin as a case study but will draw upon the expertise of individuals and organizations from a number of other vulnerable river basins throughout Africa.

To achieve this general objective a number of specific, strategic objectives were followed. These are to:

  • Develop a generic web-hosted interactive database resource and information system for policy makers, researchers and practitioners, detailing information on existing research, policies and management initiatives aimed at integrated water resource management (IWRM), conservation of biodiversity (CBD) and sustainable livelihoods (SL) in the Mara river basin;
  • Organise a pan-African stakeholder policy forum to review the data base resource and to identify the gaps and linkages between research projects, policies and management initiatives; and
  • Promote interregional and international networking, knowledge sharing and collaboration between researchers, policy makers and practitioners working on IWRM, CBD and SL in the Mara catchment and in other vulnerable river basins of Africa.

The SAA addresses the following INCO-DEV specific objectives:

  • Rational use of natural resources.
  • Managing arid and semi-arid ecosystems.
  • Sustainable, integrated water resource management (IWRM) at river basin scale.


The INTREPID project is funded under the EC INCO-DEV programme which was set up to promote scientific and technological cooperation internationally; to reinforce Community capacities in the fields of science and technology; to support the achievement of scientific excellence within the wider international framework; and to contribute to the implementation of the Community’s external policy.

Project outputs and Publications

The INTREPID project produced four key policy relevant outputs including:

  1. Published proceedings of the stakeholder policy forum: “Towards an Integrated Trans-boundary River management Policy Development in Semi-Arid River Basins”
  2. A policy brief: “Bordering on a water crisis: the Need for Integrated Resources Management in the Mara River Basin
  3. An article on the eStrategies Magazine published by British Publishers and distributed to over 39,000 across Europe and Africa
  4. Establishment of a web-hosted, interactive database resource for coordinating information on IWRM, CBD and SL in the Mara river basin

The publications include:

These outputs have been disseminated widely at a various fora including an international conference co-hosted by the United Nation’s Environment Program (UNEP), the International Society for Ecological Economics (ISEE), the African Society for ecological Economics (ASEE) and coordinated by the ATPS from 7 – 11 August, 2008, which was attended by the Rt. Hon. Raila Odinga, the Prime Minister of Kenya. The program was coordinated by Dr. Kevin Urama.

Program Activities

Specific activities carried out under the INTREPID program include:

  1. Inventory of Existing Policies and Programs for the Management of Water, Biodiversity and Livelihoods in the Mara River Basin
  2. Comprehensive inventory of existing knowledge, policies and management initiatives, to populate the interactive database
  3. Pan-African Stakeholder Forum on Integrated Transboundary River Management Policy Development, Arusha, Tanzania, 12 – 14 March 2008, attended by 50 delegates from 13 countries, brainstormed on existing research and policy gaps as well as the nexus between conservation of biodiversity, water management, and livelihoods in semi-arid river basins, using the Mara river basin as a case study.
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