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With the flow of the Mara River becoming increasingly erratic especially in the upper reaches, attention has been directed to land use change as the major cause of this problem. The semi-distributed hydrological model Soil and Water Assessment Tool 5 (SWAT) and Landsat imagery were utilized in the upper Mara River Basin in order to 1) map existing field scale land use practices in order to determine their impact 2) determine the impacts of land use change on water flux; and 3) determine the impacts of rainfall (0%, ±10% and ±20%) and air temperature variations (0% and +5%) based on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change projections on the water flux of the 10 upper Mara River. This study found that the different scenarios impacted on the water balance components differently. Land use changes resulted in a slightly more erratic discharge while rainfall and air temperature changes had a more predictable impact on the discharge and water balance components. These findings demonstrate that the model results 15 show the flow was more sensitive to the rainfall changes than land use changes. It was also shown that land use changes can reduce dry season flow which is the most important problem in the basin. The model shows also deforestation in the Mau Forest increased the peak flows which can also lead to high sediment loading in the Mara River. The effect of the land use and climate change scenarios on the sediment and 20 water quality of the river needs a thorough understanding of the sediment transport processes in addition to observed sediment and water quality data for validation of modeling results.


© Author(s) 2010. CC Attribution 3.0 License.

Originally published in Hydrology and Earth System Sciences available at