The role of wetland resources on community livelihoods was examined in Katumbasongwe and Mpunguti villages in Songwe River Basin (SRB), Tanzania. The study focused on wetland resource utilization patterns and its significance in supporting rural livelihoods. Various methods were used to complement each other in addressing the study, namely structured questionnaires, participatory methods and remote sensing techniques. The study shows that 81.7 and 85.6% of the sample population in Katumbasongwe and Mpunguti village respectively depended largely on wetland resources for their livelihoods. These include rice production, livestock keeping, fishing and harvesting of macrophytes for weaving. Wetland resource utilisation patterns have been towards expansion of rice production and settlement at the expense of other land cover types. This has been driven largely by high market demand for rice and increased population. The study observed that the nature and extent of wetland resource utilization patterns vary considerably from one socio-economic group to another depending on their flexibility and access to livelihood assets. Agricultural intensification and input support to farmers is expected to increase agricultural productivity. However, such intervention should take into consideration the socio-economic differentiation of the households. Moreover, proper land use plan and management are crucial for enhanced sustainability of wetland resources and other potentials in supporting livelihoods.
Key words: Agriculture, wetland resources, land use, rural livelihood, Songwe River basin.
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