Lake Kivu, one of the African Great Lakes, and the Ruzizi/Rusizi River are connected watercourses that lie along the border of Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Rwanda. Lake Kivu is connected to Lake Tanganyika by the Ruzizi River. The Basin covers a total area of 13 449 square kilometers.
Lake Kivu and the Ruzizi River provide the foundation for the everyday activities and livelihoods of more than 11 million people. This population is projected to reach 27.5 million in 2050. The Basin has enormous resources, including natural forests (notably the Virunga/Volcanoes National Park, the Kahuzi_Biega Park, and the Gishwati-Mukura Biosphere Reserve), water courses and a rich biodiversity.
The basin is essential for food supply, energy production, irrigation, supply of drinking water, and tourism. Lake Kivu contains about 560 billion m3 of water and 60 billion m3 of dissolved methane. Along its course, the Ruzizi/Rusizi River falls in elevation from 1 450 metres to 770 metres, offering the potential to generate more than 500 megawatts of hydroelectric power (around 80 MW are currently exploited). Rwanda is extracting methane from Lake Kivu to use for power generation and distribution in its national grid (currently 76 MW).
Groundwater is exploited from 550 natural springs in Burundi and Rwanda, largely for drinking water in rural areas.