Environmental flow sustainability in the Lower Limpopo River Basin, Mozambique

Osvaldo Silva Zefanias Nhassengo, Hiroaki Somura, June Wolfe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Study region: This study focuses on the Lower Limpopo River basin (LLRB) in Mozambique, Africa. Study focus: Maintaining environmental flows necessary for ecosystem sustainability represents a significant challenge to water resource management. In this study the sustainability of LLRB was evaluated by comparing hydrologic availability with ecological and anthropogenic needs. Current river ecological status was scored with a habitat integrity index verified through ground-truthing field surveys and aerial imagery data. Local stakeholder interviews were used to further evaluate the habitat index scores. Deficiencies between water availability and ecological-human requirements were assessed with a water scarcity index. New Hydrological Insights for the Region: Four environmental flow categories defined as “Excellent”, “Fair”, “Poor”, and “Degraded” coincided to approximately 50 %, 39 %, 27 %, and 14 % of the natural mean annual flow, respectively. Stakeholder interview responses indicated annual water shortages currently occur between August and November and coincide with “Poor” and “Degraded” environmental flow conditions. Water supplies appear to meet consumption needs when calculated on an annual basis with the water scarcity index. However, when calculated monthly, there is not enough to meet human water demand between August and October. This deficit period will likely expand from June to November due to projected increases in future water demands. As the greatest water use in the basin is agricultural irrigation, long-term environmental flows sustainability will likely depend upon effective irrigation management.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100843
JournalJournal of Hydrology: Regional Studies
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021


  • Ecosystem sustainability
  • Environmental flow requirement
  • Small scale irrigation
  • Water demand
  • Water scarcity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


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