Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor's Name

Assefa Melesse

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Mahadev Bhat

Third Advisor's Name

Dean Whitman

Fourth Advisor's Name

Georgio Tachiev

Fifth Advisor's Name

René M. Price


Mara River basin, Watershed modeling, SWAT, Climate Change, downscaling, GCM, RFE, water Resource, Water demand, water allocation, optimization, Serengeti, Maasai

Date of Defense



The Mara River Basin (MRB) is endowed with pristine biodiversity, socio-cultural heritage and natural resources. The purpose of my study is to develop and apply an integrated water resource allocation framework for the MRB based on the hydrological processes, water demand and economic factors. The basin was partitioned into twelve sub-basins and the rainfall runoff processes was modeled using the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) after satisfactory Nash-Sutcliff efficiency of 0.68 for calibration and 0.43 for validation at Mara Mines station. The impact and uncertainty of climate change on the hydrology of the MRB was assessed using SWAT and three scenarios of statistically downscaled outputs from twenty Global Circulation Models. Results predicted the wet season getting more wet and the dry season getting drier, with a general increasing trend of annual rainfall through 2050. Three blocks of water demand (environmental, normal and flood) were estimated from consumptive water use by human, wildlife, livestock, tourism, irrigation and industry. Water demand projections suggest human consumption is expected to surpass irrigation as the highest water demand sector by 2030. Monthly volume of water was estimated in three blocks of current minimum reliability, reserve (>95%), normal (80–95%) and flood (40%) for more than 5 months in a year. The assessment of water price and marginal productivity showed that current water use hardly responds to a change in price or productivity of water. Finally, a water allocation model was developed and applied to investigate the optimum monthly allocation among sectors and sub-basins by maximizing the use value and hydrological reliability of water. Model results demonstrated that the status on reserve and normal volumes can be improved to ‘low’ or ‘moderate’ by updating the existing reliability to meet prevailing demand. Flow volumes and rates for four scenarios of reliability were presented. Results showed that the water allocation framework can be used as comprehensive tool in the management of MRB, and possibly be extended similar watersheds.



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