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Improving safe water using modern tech

Water is an impeccable substance that triggers the continuity of life. It is extremely vital for water sources to be preserved and protected in Tanzania.

With growing environmental pollution trends, safe and clean water availability might be exposed to grave jeopardy limiting the livelihood of countless individuals.

Tanzania accommodates more than 54 million people as Natural Bureau of Statistics (NBS) population projects, converging realistic and sustainable plans to secure water for all necessary uses is critical.

Modern technology has much to offer in improving safe and clean water accessibility in Tanzania with youth being the drivers.

The National Water Policy of 2002 has broken down the vitality of water and social for economic development, whereby water is a fundamental resource for industrial production, irrigation agriculture and livestock keeping, mineral processing, hydropower production, recreation and tourism.

Moreover, National Environmental Statistics Report of 2017 indicates that, our annual rainfall has been lying around 550-2500mm, while the urban water supply reaching 86 percent of the population, with more than 22 million people served with water in rural areas (2016).

With the above facts and figures, still a huge number of people are faced by safe and clean water challenges across the nation.

Collected water records indicated almost 50 percent of the population are found in the water access challenge pool.

Scientific projections, point out that Tanzania may face water stress due to population growth and immense water consumption.

Despite of 7 percent of the land covered by lakes, still water pollution is exacerbated by daily human activities limiting the supply of safe water for communities along the lake-zones and the longevity of aquatic organisms.

With modern technology expanding its reach, incorporating it into securing safe and clean water is imperative.

Translating the vitality of modern technology, Paul Thomas Nyakyi is a young Co-founder of Science and Technology Innovation Centre and Laboratories (STICLab) the first maker-space in Tanzania, equipped with experienced innovators coming up with products and services to solve community problems.

Nyakyi handed down his aspirations on water technology line citing “vast business in water sector drove us despite people forgetting and leaving the burden to the government, we thought having a coin-based machine would make water distribution easy and something that is progressive and sustainable due to efficient collection of revenue”.

MAJIPesa being the name of their state-of-theart vending machine, it has served better communities across Tanzania with swift water access which are monitored remotely, out-matching conventional ways.

Nyakyi insisted that, incorporating modern technology is essential due to water data collection facilitates better decisions reflecting future water demands across the country.

Adding to that Nyakyi goes on “Also, digital technology comes along with accurate revenue collection methods, thus every-coin drop (citing the MAJIPesa device) is accounted for in the system”.

Zooming into another water technological sphere, Majicoa Cambridge based social-enterprise, that is focused on empowering communities with affordable and sustainable water treatment technological solutions, has assumed a critical role in championing off grid water purifying systems in Tanzania.

Jeroen Verheyen, is a Co-founder and Chief Operational Officer of Majico, who has co-developed an ingenious solution which is called photocatalysis, using nano-particles to induce reactions that can kill bacteria, viruses and organic pollutants in water.

Verheyen broke down various issues that triggered their work in Tanzania, adding “I have always been passionate about translating science into something useful. I worked with this technology for the past 7 yearor so. My co-founder and I wanted to do this, because we understood that there is a global need for effective and cheap water treatment technologies deployed in an off-grid setting”.

Verheyen and his partner Mike have comprehended the actual needs in water demands and created a good business model to create much impact as possible.

He went along and exposed keen details, adding “One specific problem in Dar es Salaam, is water and sewage infrastructures have maintenance problems, thus fixing it is easier said than done, how to use modern technology to remove contaminants from the water after it comes out of the tap was the critical question. With useful features such as no electricity, automation operation, no waste production and even cooling and dispensing at school or hospitals were at the table. It is the approach we are taking and utilizing stakeholder’s information to build a finer version suing different kinds of technology.”

Majico brought youth at the center of their scientific work and share their skills with local students and graduates along the business and technological career, they incorporated various blend of young minds.

Paul Ruhumbika is one of the beneficiaries of Majico internship opportunity, Ruhumbika adds “the opportunity has elevated my skills, such as pitching and presentation which are vital in my career. I have learned that the Majico water purifying system will elevate health in communities and economies as well, by leveraging available options within the communities.”

With climate change and environmental degradation threatening the livelihood of many Tanzanians, there are other challenges towards safeguarding access to safe water. Verheyen pointed out that, education, traditions and lack of involvement are the three challenges regarding the implementation of water purification technologies.

Verheyen insists” Many ideas and technologies have failed, not due to lack of education or due to traditions, but due to lack of community and stakeholder involvement”.

On the other hand, Nyakyi elaborates on the challenges pinpointing bureaucracy from government water authorities to acquire the technology in their sales point.

Reluctance of community members taking up modern water access technology has been a factor triggered by top-bottom design approach as Verheyen adds "Individuals and communities need to be invested in the solution, if you build it together with the community and create and ecosystem around it, people are more likely to keep using it”.

Ministry of Water and Irrigation has stipulated clearly that water infrastructures should be sustainably managed to cater for various water demands over-space.

Hence, Nyakyi highlighted there are better days coming ahead, he adds “taking into account recent government initiatives in water, am highly convinced that we will have 95 percent of Tanzania accessing water in the future”.

Toping up on that, Verheyen goes ahead and exposed industrialization efforts of the current government to be a catalyst of having better water infrastructure and access to water technology.

Technology has an immense power to reinvigorate safe water access within our communities, public, private and third sector ought all be united against water scarcity. Shaping our uses with cutting edge technology is imperative.

Water is life, we should use our daily lives to safeguard clean and safe water for all.

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