Ministries team up draft new water rules

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THE Ministry of Water and Irrigation is working with colleagues briefed on regional administration and local government to develop fresh regulations to guide the new Rural Water Authority.

Mr Athumani Sharif, spokesperson for the water and irrigation brief, has told the ‘Daily News’ here that "the plans are going on very well and the regulations will soon be approved,” he said, adding: "… all along, we’ve been working with the ministry responsible for regional Administration and Local Governments."

Mr Sharif says that the government had resolved to establish a rural water authority after a series of disappointing water projects executed by local authorities. However, he couldn’t clearly elaborate how the new agency would discharge its duties, but added that "there will be a distinction of duties" from existing water utilities – under which the rural water agency would be charged with overseeing all rural water projects.

Currently, the ministry supervises all water utilities formerly charged with water supply as well as sewerage services in urban areas, especially cities and municipalities. Mr Sharif says the ministry had spent huge sum of monies to district and township councils to finance various water projects, but laments that "most of these projects were ‘white elephants.’"

"The plan hasn't helped us or benefited the people … they still face water shortages … because the existing strategy gives some loopholes to council executive directors to misuse the funds," he says. It is alleged that local authorities had been spending water budgets on other matters, thus slowing down improvements on water access in rural communities.

The rural water agency comes just months after the government established another agency charged with rural and urban roads-Tarura. The former minister for Water, Mr Gerson Lwenge told parliamentarians when winding up the ministry's budget speech in May last year that the authority would ‘fast-track’ execution of water projects within rural communities across the country.

The government says some districts had left idle huge sum of monies relocated from development funds to support water projects "This authority will boost performance and subsequently ensure proper utilisation of the water funds," he said.

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