Government mulls more dams to control flooding as 58 die


Mr Mobhare Matinyi

What you need to know:

  • Matinyi highlights the essential role of dams in flood control efforts, underscoring the government’s commitment to constructing additional dams across the country to mitigate the impact of flooding.

Dar es Salaam.  In the wake of devastating floods that have claimed 58 lives across various regions of Tanzania in two weeks, the government has revealed plans to bolster flood control infrastructure through the construction of additional dams.

Speaking to the press yesterday, the government’s spokesperson, Mr Mobhare Matinyi, highlighted the essential role of dams in flood control efforts, underscoring the government’s commitment to constructing additional dams across the country to mitigate the impact of flooding.

Mr Matinyi also dismissed claims that the Julius Nyerere Hydropower Dam was exacerbating the flooding in the Coast and Morogoro regions, arguing that the dam was rather slowing the floods.

He said the process of filling the Julius Nyerere dam began in December 2022 and was expected to take three years, but due to heavy rainfall, the reservoir filled up by March 5, 2024.

“If not for the dam, flooding could have started in October 2023 and would have been much more severe. Currently, the reservoir holds 32.784 billion cubic metres of water, which would have inundated the homes in Rufiji,” he said.

“The dam has also helped in estimating the quantity of water and its timing, thus providing early warnings to the citizens; for example, the warning was previously shared early in February this year before the crisis,” he said.

According to Mr Matinyi, the government plans to construct two additional dams at the Rufiji River Basin, one being the Ngorongo dam, encompassing all villages named Ngorongo, Mkongo, Ruwe, Nyamwage, and Ikwiriri South, with a capacity of 164 cubic metres, primarily for irrigation purposes.

“It will have a water discharge capacity of 34.5 million cubic metres,” he said, adding, “The second one will be named Mbakia Mtuli and will involve the villages of Umwe, Tumbi A, Tumbi B, Tumbi C, Mbakia Mtuli, and Mohoro. It will have a capacity of 100.1 million cubic meters,”

The government plans to construct more than 14 additional dams, with construction already underway for some and feasibility studies conducted for 127 others in the 2023/2024 fiscal year. The expectation is that the that the construction process for these projects will commence in the upcoming fiscal year 2024/2025.

“The ministry of Agriculture will announce a tender on April 20, 2024, to solicit bids for the process of selecting contractors to undertake these tasks,” revealed Matinyi.

Counting losses

As Tanzania continues to grapple with the aftermath of the floods, the government’s spokesperson revealed yesterday that in the loss of life that happened between April 1 and April 14, this year, police reports indicate 11 are from the coast region, 10 from Arusha, 10 from Rukwa, five from Morogoro, six from Mbeya, four from Lindi, two in Dar, four in Geita, five in Iringa and one in Kilimanjaro.

“Pwani Region, notably the Rufiji and Kibiti districts, has been impacted the hardest, with 17 wards affected. In the Morogoro region, 50 wards were affected,” he said.

Mr Matinyi said the total number of destroyed houses in these two regions (Morogoro and Coast) is 8532, while a total of 76,698 hectares of farmland have also been destroyed.

The affected households totaled 10,839, with 4635 households in the Coast region and 6204 in the Morogoro region.

“There is damage to infrastructure such as roads, bridges, and culverts, affecting transportation services. Additionally, there is loss of property, livestock, destruction of pastureland, and environmental damage,” he said.

Providing insights into the ongoing government response, Matinyi outlined various measures being taken to address the aftermath of the floods, including the coordination of relief efforts to assist affected households, the rehabilitation of damaged infrastructure, and the deployment of resources for rescue and recovery operations.