Tanganyika Catchment

Tanganyika Catchment

The Tanganyika River Catchment has an area of about 17,096 Km2 on the Zambian side occupying about 27% of the Northern Province. The Tanganyika Catchment stretches across five districts of the Northern Province of Zambia namely: Mporokoso, Nsama, Mpulungu, Senga and Mbala districts.

Tanganyika Catchment Rainfall

The average temperatures on the Tanganyika Catchment ranges between 20 and 30 ⁰C with the maximum of 36⁰C and minimum 10.3 ⁰C (JICA, 1995).

The Tanganyika Catchment is located in an agro–ecological zone with the highest rainfall ranging between 1100mm to 1500mm. Rains begin in late October and last up to April.


The Lake Tanganyika which is shared by Burundi, Tanzania, Congo DRC and Zambia is considered to be the world’s longest freshwater lake. On the Zambia side, the largest tributary is the Lufubu River with a mean flow of 65 m3/sec. Other rivers within the catchment include: the Lunzua, Lucheche and Saise Rivers.

Soils & Vegetation

The soils that dominate the Tanganyika Catchment are the Lithosol-Cambisol which are vastly distributed along the escarpment and lift valley trough. Vegetation distribution across the catchment is mostly savannah (Woodland with trees scattered or found in clusters and characterized by tall grass) and Miombo woodlands mostly on hills.

Geology & Geomorphology

Geologically, the region extending from Mporokoso through Senga Hill and Mbala, was formed on a dying silicic magmatic arc between 1800 and 1100 Ma. The region is characterised by deep fluvial and shallow marine siliciclastic sediments (Elsevier, 1989). In terms of topography, the Tanganyika catchment is characterised by undulating plateaus with isolated hills and has elevations ranging from 760m on the shores of Lake Tanganyika to about 2000m on Sunzu Hills near Mbala.

Economic Activities

The major economic activity on the Tanganyika basin is fishing and agriculture. Mpulungu town is the major trading centre in the catchment and has been a port on the shores of Lake Tanganyika since the 1930s. One of the most popular commodities traded is Kapenta (Mpulungu-Kapenta), which breeds in the Lake Tanganyika waters. Crops grown at commercial scale are potatoes and coffee while those grown by peasant farmers across the catchment includes: maize, beans, cassava, finger millet, groundnuts and soya beans.