Lake Tanganyika

Bio-physical and demographic characteristics

  • Shared by Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Tanzania and Zambia

  • Deepest lake in Africa, and largest among the Albertine Rift lakes

  • Surface area = 32,600 km², shoreline = 1,828 km

  • Basin has a population of >10 million people

  • Population density of the basin varies between 13-250 persons per km2

  • Riparian countries are among the poorest nations in the world

Values and investment opportunities

  • One of the richest freshwater ecosystems in the world with over 2000 species

  • ~500 species endemic, and are not found anywhere else on Earth, and half of these are cichlid fishes

  • Total of commercial and artisanal fisheries yield 165,000-200,000 tons per year

  • Fisheries employ ~100,000 people and provide 25-40% of protein needs to 1 m people

  • Lake is known for its ornamental fish as a source of aquarium stock

  • Opportunities for cage fish farming, farming on slopes or strips of land between the rift escarpment and the lake, oil and gas development, and tourism in four national parks

Ecological and economic concerns

  • Ecosystem services threatened by high population growth, overexploitation of natural resources, invasive species, habitat degradation, pollution, and climate change

  • Rapidly growing population enhances deterioration in water quality of the lake

  • Population exerts intense fishing pressure, especially in the northern and southern region

  • ~ 30 invasive plants in the basin


  • Riparian countries have institutions to conduct research and implement management measures in development and conservation of natural resources

  • Riparian countries have policies and regulations that guide development and conservation of natural resources and are parties to international treaties which bind them to establish mechanisms for managing the threats to biological diversity

  • Regional authority LTA harmonizes conservation and management efforts in the lake basin

Potential sustainable development interventions

  • Increase awareness through sharing of information and best practices

  • Devise internal funding mechanisms for sustainable management of the lake basin

  • Scale up alternative livelihood programs to improve adaptive capacity and reduce dependence on vulnerable fisheries resources

  • Promote community participation in implementation of best practices to manage resources