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#1 Agroforestry To Save The Mindu Dam
02 May 2023

Marjolein Reijnierse is Project Manager and Advisor on Climate Adaptation at regional water authority Rivierenland. In addition, she is active in our WaterWorX partnership with the Morogoro Water Supply and Sanitation Authority (MORUWASA) in Tanzania. In her first blog, she shares with us her experiences in Morogoro.

During our stay in March 2023, the Water Resource Team of MORUWASA and WaterWorX,  made a trip upstream to the Mindu dam to have a closer look at the issues in the rural area. We saw the local brick making industry in the valley and  followed one of the five rivers up into the Morogoro Mountains around Tangeni Village. It’s easy to see that the local economy depends on agriculture. The hills are quite steep but mainly used for agricultural activities. Motorcycles drive up en down carrying baskets full of crops covered by dried banana leafs to keep them fresh.

We spoke with local people on our way up about the weather changes (due to climate change) and the challenges it brings them. On our way down we joined a meeting in the village hall with the two local farmer associations about the subject. They told us that they have big issues with erosion and asked for help. We also discussed the possibility of agroforestry. We made the agreement to keep in touch to work out solutions together. We brought a mobile phone to enable easier communication. The village meeting ended with a 20 minute discussion about who had to keep the mobile phone we brought with us. A lively demonstration of local decision making. We concluded the meeting with a group photo and some delicious ‘stroopwafels’ that we brought. 


Meeting at the village hall

So you might be thinking: how with agroforestry help this local community? Planting trees as a water utility might seem strange at first. However, it is necessary to preserve Mindu Dam, the main source of water of Morogoro region. At this moment, there is a lot of erosion in the area around Mindu Dam. This erosion is causing the sedimentation of Mindu Dam. Planting trees is a proven method to stop erosion. However, what kind of trees to plant?

A team of Dutch experts came to research this specific issue. They have looked at numerous variables. First of all, we focused on the meteorology of Morogoro region. How much rain is there throughout the year and what periods is the rain falling? The periods of draught could last for months, and the new trees should be able to withstand it. Secondly, what is the typical kind of soil around Mindu Dam? For example, there is a lot of clay around the Mindu Dam. Clay has a low filtration, which is bad for some trees, but good for others. Third, the trees should also be beneficial to the farmers. So we made an inquiry at the local market to find out what fruits such as mango and avocado are sold for.

We will put all the data from these different variables into the FarmTree tool to make an assessment of what tree would be most suitable for this specific project. We want a tree that would thrive under the conditions of the region and which does not require a lot of water to grow its fruits. Furthermore, the tree should be profitable and worthwhile to the farmers as well.