Thursday, April 7, 2011

Water crisis: Will Tanzania meet MDGs?

STAKEHOLDERS of the water industry in the country have been experiencing many challenges and hardships towards the development of the water sector, the results of which have not been providing solutions to a better achievement. One doubtful report is whether Tanzanian water sector strategies will be able to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The strategies aim to ensure an effective supply of clean and safe water to its people as endorsed in the Ministry’s program of decade for action 2005-2015. As the saying goes, the ongoing issue of water scarcity in the country has been the order of the day. There has been cries of water in almost every part of the country. It’s water, water and water everywhere as from the household taps to rural family homes. But if one may ask to find out where has water gone? Stakeholders including government authorities, politicians and the individuals concerned, remains dumb or even turned a blind eye and eventually no solutions to the problems despite of the numerous promises. Women and children including men almost in every part of the country, search for water everyday in virtually all cities, towns and even in rural vicinity. They have to walk long distances in search of this precious commodity but to no avail. It is no longer a secret that access to safe water is essential for addressing poverty and health problems. However, it remains a fact that in Tanzania and most of other African countries, the poor who lives in rural areas have limited access to clean water for domestic and crop production and adequate sanitation. While water is of such social, economic and environmental value, over the two past years, Tanzania like other African countries located south of Sahara desert, has been experiencing drought which has resulted into serious water shortages impacting on the very critical aspects of its people’s lives, growth and development. The chronic water shortages in many areas is causing serious concern to all and sundry. Various studies have revealed that, the main problems in rural communities are long treks that culminate in walking long distances of about two to three kilometers daily in order to get water. Long queues at the point of water taps are also another problem and this situation stagnates other economic activities. Should there be contamination at these common points the whole village is likely to be at risk. From time immemorial, this old adage of water everywhere but not a drop to drink continues to stare at the faces of Tanzanians now for the last 50 years after independence Moreover, the debate rages on as whether water scarcity is due to lack of resources, human capacity or bureaucracy. In Dar es Salaam city for example, despite of its currently estimated 4.5 million people, the story remains the same for the better part of the independence years. Half of its suburbs which depend on water sources from Ruvu Juu are currently faced by a water crisis probably due to the increased dilapidated water infrastructures. A resident of Mwenge-Migombani suburb in the city, Mr. Juma Isaya blames the government and the local authority ministry for giving city dwellers a raw deal despite payment to the authorities and taxes to the government for the improvement of water infrastructures.

He says, it was hard for the government to justify taxation to the city dwellers while they are exposed to all sorts of diseases associated with lack of adequate water in their household surroundings. However, a high ranking official of the Dar es Salaam Water and Sewerage Corporation (DAWASCO) who spoke on strict condition of anonymity noted that, “chances of having reliable water supply within the city of Dare es Salaam are very minimal at the moment, citing on the failure of long rains which seems to have delayed to fill up the level from the main source of water supply in Kizinga and Ruve Juu rivers respectively”. According to him, in order to avert the situation, DAWASCO is currently working out plans to rehabilitate several boreholes in the city in case the condition gets worse. But useful observers have noted that most of these wells might not work to satisfy people’s needs as most of them are empowered by electricity whose supply is currently unreliable countrywide due to its rationing. This is yet another scenario caused owing to frequent power blackouts culminating from water shortage from its generating sources. Water blues to some extent might be caused by insufficient water rainfall. Apart from borehole and other drilling water wells, dry spell is rigorously a cause of inadequate water supply in the country, says Robert Kyaruzi a water engineer in the Ministry of Water and Irrigation. He says that, because of the growth of world population and other factors, the availability of drinking water per capita is shrinking. The issue of water shortage can be solved through more production, better distribution and less waste of it. Water is becoming increasingly scarce all over the world, and this scarcity is considered one of the most pressing problems confronting the survival of humankind in the 21st century. The increasing water scarcity worldwide is posing threats on development and environmental protection. Scarcity and misuse of fresh water pose a serious threat to sustainable development and protection of the environment. This exemplified the central importance that water resources and water scarcity have attained in global debates on the environment and development. Experts predicts more troubles ahead because of the world’s growing population, increasing contamination through pollution and global warming. While the world’s population tripled in the 20th century, the use of renewable water resources has grown six-fold. Statistics shows that Tanzania is endowed with second fresh water lake in the world, the country’s urban centres in the lake Victoria Basin are the hardest hit by water scarcity. As a result water borne diseases besides malaria have remained health issues all year around. Such urban centres are like Musoma, Bukoba and Mwanza city respectively. Water is a fundamental natural resource for social economic development. Since the Millennium summit’s declaration of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2000 as an agenda for reducing poverty and improving lives of people in the world. Tanzania has been spearheading various strategic actions for achieving these targets but unfortunately they have proved futile.

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