WATER is essential for human life and to sustain various aquatic living organisms. It is also an important economic driver as an essential requirement for industry, power generation, commerce and agriculture. But in his performance audit report on the control of water abstraction from the water sources, the Controller and Auditor General (CAG), Prof Mussa Assad, has noted, among others, absence of proper plans and effective mechanism to monitor and control authorised water abstractors. Our Staff Writer FAUSTINE KAPAMA reports…
WATER is abstracted for a range of uses, including agriculture, industry, power generation and public water supply. The government and the responsible institutions together with water users need to make sure that abstraction is sustainable and does not damage the environment.
The control of how much, where and when water is abstracted is done by issuing of water use permit. If water abstraction is not controlled, it will reach a point that our water sources will deplete and result into water stress situation, where people and the surrounding environment will not have enough water for survival. Water sources in Tanzania are faced with different problems that may cause either water depletion (reduction in quantity) or water pollution (deterioration of quality).
Increasing human activities and the land use practices in the various catchment areas are impacting on the availability of water resources through consequent changes to runoff patterns, groundwater recharge mechanisms and the overall water balance of catchment areas.
Deforestation, agricultural activities like use of pesticides and irrigation, livestock grazing, settlement near water sources, industrial activities, fisheries, wildlife and tourism, energy production and mining activities are some of the human activities that are detrimental to water sources.
According to Tanzania Water Policy 2002, Tanzania’s annual renewable water resources are 2,700 cubic meters of water per person per year. Based on projected population from estimated 33 million in year 2001 to about 59.8 million by year 2025, annual average available water per capita will be reduced by 45 percent to about 1,500 cubic meters per person per year. This shows that the country will face a water stress situation, considering that quantity of below 1,700 cubic meters per person per year signifies water scarcity.
Therefore, there is a need of controlling abstraction in order to protect water sources from overuse. Several economic activities are taking place within prohibited sites; people are abstracting water without permits, while others with permit, abstract more than the prescribed limits.
There has been an increase in conflicts between different groups of water users. Control of water abstraction goes way back before Independence. Many water rights which were allocated during the pre-Independence period allowed for very high rates of abstraction, sometimes on a 24-hour basis.
The allocations were made during a time when the population was much lower than at present, and when industry and urban centers were less developed. Currently water is under pressure and getting scarce as a result of increasing multi-sectoral demands of the rapidly growing population.
Water is also vulnerable due to increasing environmental degradation, which causes unsustainable availability of the resource and hence failure to meet demands.
In 2009, the Water Resource Management Act was enacted and introduced the water use permits which prescribed the limit of water by nondomestic abstractor from the sources. The Basin Water Boards were given the mandate to control and monitor the water resources through granting water use permits.
Moreover conflicts of water sharing have been very common in almost all the water basins. Conflicts have emerged between users of different categories in the basins. Large scale plantations using hundreds litters of water per second come into conflicts with small-scale users using small quantities of water.
Similarly, the urban centers in the basins require more water as they expand at the expense of the village governments of farming communities causing more conflicts between them.
The other issues which have motivated the CAG’s audit are increase in illegal abstraction and over-exploitation of water resources especially during droughts. This has brought confrontation between pastoralists and irrigation water users to the point of loss of properties and lives.
The Maasai’s traditional land was strained by overuse of water resources and overgrazing as the result in the past few years, 2,987 herders with 871,321 cows and 98,341 goats moved into the basin’s low lands and destroyed arable lands.
Therefore, the Controller and Auditor General (CAG) decided to conduct a performance audit on the area of water abstraction from the sources based on the above motivations.
He was motivated by the frequent public outcry from civil societies and parliament discussions through different local media. Such outcry, according to the CAG, regarded the frequent occurrence of water source pollution and depletion in different parts of the country which is threatening the growth of economy and health of the people.
The CAG audit aimed at assessing whether the Basin Water Boards have developed effective plans for water use, whether the Ministry of Water and such Boards effectively monitor activities in controlling water abstraction.
He also sought to know whether the Boards take proper actions to control water abstraction and whether there is proper coordination between the Ministry, Boards and other stakeholders. In his findings, the CAG has discovered that all visited Boards planned to give out certain number of permits, however important component such as water balance was not considered before issuing water use permit.
It was further noted that there was no involvement of key stakeholders in process of planning for water use. Stakeholders such as Water User Association, Non-Government Organizations and Local Government Authorities and the concerned ministries were not involved.
The CAG has further noted that inspections of water sources were not conducted properly as in some places water was still used without permits from the respective Boards. According to the report, it was observed that some abstracting structures were used to abstract water from upstream rivers leaving the downstream without water.
Geographical coverage of basins and inadequate resources, he says, were claimed to be the causative factors of failure to conduct regular inspection and no follow up was made to determine whether water users, abstracted the permitted amount of water.
It was also revealed that collection of user charges were not effectively done as not all the users paid what they were supposed to pay.
The CAG states that both large and small scale water users were not paying their tariffs timely as prescribed in their abstracting permits. Several urban and municipal water authorities did not pay their water use fee to the Basin Water Boards as required, and the system set for collecting water bills was weak.
This, he noted, hassled to the weakening of monitoring activities which could have been conducted using the money collected. The CAG states further that actions taken by Basin Water Boards to illegal water users were not deterrent; hence the activities of illegal water abstraction were increasing throughout the visited basins. He noted that communication and information sharing between Ministry of Water and Basin Water Basins with other actors on the control of water abstraction was not effective.
It was further noted that, having different reporting structures has weakened coordination. The Local Government Authorities report to the President’s Office Regional Administration and Local Government while the Basin Water Board report directly to the Ministry of Water and Irrigation has weakened their coordination.
Prof. Assad concludes in his audit that the ministry, particularly at the Boards level is not effective enough to Control water abstraction. This is because there were no proper plans for water abstraction. He states that the Boards had failed to have effective mechanism to monitor abstraction levels and control unauthorized water abstractors as they did not conduct regular inspections.
They also did not effectively collect water use fees from the authorized users and the actions taken to prevent unauthorized users were not deterrent enough to stop the tendency of abstracting water illegally. He recommends, therefore, to the Ministry of Water and Irrigation to ensure integrated Water Resource Management and Development Plan is finalized and implemented in all Basin Water Boards and also ensure that Water sources inventory is conducted by all Boards.
The CAG proposes further to the ministry that Basin Water Boards are staffed with required professions and equipped with all necessary equipment required for inspection and monitoring activities.
On the other hand, he recommends to the Basin Water Board to ensure regular inspection is done so that water users are complying with their water use permits requirements and improve internally generated funds by improving the financing mechanism of Water Resources Management activities.