The EAC region has large rivers, lakes, water bodies and wide spread ground water resources.
Unfortunately, these resources are currently not exploited to their maximum potential due to various natural and human factors. The factors include:
- extreme spatial and temporal variability of climate and rainfall coupled with climate change,
- growing water scarcity, shrinking of some water bodies and desertification,
- inappropriate governance and institutional arrangements in managing national and trans-boundary water basins, and
- failure to invest adequately in resource assessment, protection and development.
Eastern Africa is home to some of the greatest water sources in the world. The three most notable water bodies and systems and of relevance to the East Africa region include:
- Lake Tanganyika - the greatest single reservoir of fresh water on the continent and second deepest in the world,
- Lake Victoria - Africa’s largest lake and the world’s second-largest freshwater lake, and
- The Nile River Basin - source of the Nile, the longest river in the world.
The distribution of water varies significantly within the region.
The region has four major aridity zones:
- Moist sub-humid - mainly in Uganda, Rwanda and parts of Burundi,
- Dry sub-humid - parts of Uganda, western Tanzania,
- Semi-arid - parts of Tanzania, and
- Arid - most of Kenya.
The western component of East Africa, including Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda along with the central part of the continent are considered to have a rain surplus, while large parts of Kenya are considered to have a very large water deficit.