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Hydrological modeling of the Congo River basin: Asoil-water balance approach

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par Bahati Chishugi Josue
University of Botswana - Masters of Sciences (M.Sc.) 2008

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1.3 Research objectives

The main objective of is study is to understand and to model the hydrological budget and processes in the Congo River Basin.

The specific objectives are as follows:

· To study the hydromorphologic characteristics of the Congo basin based on Digital Elevation Model (DEM) processing techniques

· To determine the available spatial and temporal hydro-climatic information and data
gaps in order to undertake a GIS-based water budget study in the Congo River Basin.

· To assess the spatial and temporal variability of water balance components namely, soil moisture, actual evapotranspiration and runoff in the Congo river basin.

· To map the spatial and temporal variability of rainfall, effective rainfall, potential and actual evapotranspiration, soil moisture, runoff and Vertical Integrated Moisture Convergence in Congo River Basin

1.4 Importance of study

The hydrological cycle of the Congo River Basin is of great importance as the region plays an
important role in the functioning of regional and global climate. Variations in regional water
and energy balance at year-to-year and longer time scales are of special interest, because

alterations in circulation and precipitation can ultimately translate changes in the streamflow of the Congo River Basin. In addition, these changes can also affect the atmospheric moisture transport from the Congo River Basin to adjacent regions.

With a discharge of be 41,800m3/s; the Congo River contributes for itself with about 30 % of the water inflow to the Atlantic Ocean from the African continent. In 1980, its contribution was estimated to 41.1% (Olivry et al, 1993).

The Congo is the biggest means of transportation in Central Africa with more than 14,500 km of navigable channel/rivers across Central Africa. The Congo River has enormous hydroelectricity potential that can supply the whole African continent. It represents more than one-sixth of the world's known resources and remains un-exploited.

In February 2005, South Africa's state-owned power company, Eskom, announced a proposal to increase the capacity of the Inga Dam dramatically through improvements and the construction of a new dam and hydropower plant. The project would bring the maximum output of the facility to 40 GW, twice that of China's Three Gorges Dam (UNEP, 2006).

In June 2007, the African Development Bank (AfDB) signed two agreements with the International Commission of the Congo-Oubangi-Sangha River Basin (CICOS) amounting to 2.44 million euros from the African Water Facility (AWF) to finance programmes aimed at improving the integrated management of Congo River Basin. The two agreements were hailed as a significant event of engagement of the African Water Facility to support the objectives of creating an enabling environment for sustainable water resources management of the Congo River Basin with a view to bringing about socio-economic development and environmental wellbeing for the benefit of countries sharing the water resources in particular, Africa in general (Allafrica, 2007).

The water balance model to be developed will provide a reasonable solution to large scale hydrological problems associated with planning and optimal management of the resources in the catchment.

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