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Access to water, sanitation amid rapid urbanisation

AT least four in every ten people have no access to water supply and sanitation in rural Tanzania slowing human development and subsequently poverty reduction in the area, the latest report by the parliamentary committee on agriculture, livestock and water shows.

The report, citing the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) last year’s survey, further indicates 80 per cent of residents in urban had no access to improved water supply, sanitation and hygiene services.

Improving access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all is part of the international Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). The 2030 global effort was adopted with a painful experience in which 4.4 billion people had no access to sanitation in 2015.

Strategically, authorities in Tanzania embarked on implementing a five-year water sector development project that targets to increase access to clean water supply and sanitation by 85 per cent in rural communities and 95 per cent in urban centres by 2020/ 21.

The Chairman of the committee, Mahmood Mgimwa told the National Assembly that 6 4.8 per cent of rural dwellers had access to the precious liquid at the end of 2018. Environmental groups, researchers and government reportedly acknowledged that the existence of faecal matters in many sources of drinking water was further adding up to the problem.

In fact, hundreds of schoolchildren are denied access to safe hygiene facilities due to inadequate source of water supply. A good witness to this is Chidete Primary School in Dodoma’s Bahi District. The school apart from having limited toilets for both pupils and teachers it has no reliable water supply and it heavily depends on accessing water from the nearby seasonal river.

The school is 90-kilometers northwest of the capital city Dodoma. In the 2019’s standard seven final national exams, the school was the last in the district ranking. Energy and Water Utilities Regulatory Authority (EWURA) shares a portion of responsibility in ensuring the public have access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene.

Besides regulating the energy sub-sector, the multi-sectoral regulator— Ewura is charged with regulating the water sector in accordance with section 27 of the water supply and sanitation Act, Cap. 272 and section 25 of the Dar es Salaam Water Supply and Sanitation Authority (DAWASA) Act, Cap 273. “It’s under this requirement that we’re implementing a medium-term strategic plan ending June 2022.

We take into account emerging new challenges and work on government directives,” the authority’s spokesman Mr Titus Kaguo responded. Ewura’s five-year strategic plan seen by the ‘ Daily News’ outlines non-communicable diseases and environmental protection as among critical cross-cutting issues.

Adequate Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) is a crucial component of basic human necessities, according to the World Bank. Outbreaks such as cholera and other waterborne diseases are a burden to the state’s health systems further increasing premature deaths.

A report released by the authority in December 2018 targeting 131 water utilities showed that among 6 4 utilities examined for water and wastewater quality tests, each utility had the various level of compliance with the Tanzania Bureau of Standards.

Ewura further went on to develop water and sewerage new connection guidelines as well as guidelines for operating and managing water kiosk.

The plan was that such communities that had boreholes and wants to fix water selling points (kiosks) in attempt to lower the shortage of water in their respective communities maintain the reasonable quality yet affordable water service.

“The guidelines are to be implemented by water utilities. We believe they will contribute to enhancing access to water and sanitation services without jeopardizing financial stability of regulated water utilities,” he said.

With an economy growing at an average of 7 per cent for the past decade, Tanzania needs to invest seriously in water supply, sanitation and hygiene for it to achieve the national development vision and the sustainable development goals.

This is in the fact that with time there has been an increase in the population and climate change thus put more pressure on the available resource. Dr Aneth Msuya environment and development issue expert explains that in 2015 access to water supply in urban cities was 86 per cent but as of 2018 only 80 per cent dwellers was reached by the service.

“This doesn’t mean the authorities didn’t invest to improve water supply in towns and cities. I can remind you it was during this time the government in Dar es Salaam, for instance, completed large scale water distribution networks,” she said.

The reason here, she says, is the fastest-growing urban population that is posing greater challenges to water utilities to meet the growing demand. Seconding the World Bank report, she said the country had achieved significant growth that includes reducing poverty from 34 per cent in 2007 to 28 in 2012.

“We’re still being holdups in expanding and sustaining sanitation and hygiene.” The world bank’s ‘ reaching for the SDGs: the untapped potential of Tanzania’s water supply, sanitation and hygiene sector’ report indicated that more than 23 million people get their drinking water from unimproved sources and 41 million citizens use pathetic sanitation facilities.

It further suggested state authorities address utility inefficiencies, the growth in dependence on informal private providers, and the need for expanded regulation.

Other recommendations were for the authorities to more clearly define and assign responsibilities for sanitation, and identify sanitation champions whilst adopting, in urban areas, citywide sanitation approaches that recognize that different solutions are suitable in different contexts.

The National Five-Year Development plan (2016 / 17— 2020/ 21) targets to increase investments in water supply and sanitation. “But most district and township water supply and sanitation authorities have weak managerial, financial and technical capacity,” Ewura admits.

The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry for Water Prof. Kitila Mkumbo revealed that it was because of the same reason the ministry resolved to dissolve 36 township water utility authorities and would be saved by 25 regional authorities.

Dawasa, for instance now operates its wings to Bagamoyo, Kibaha, Kisarawe and Mkuranga while authorities such as Dodoma Urban Water Supply and Sanitation Authority extends services to Kongwa, Bahi, Chamwino and the city centre.

The PS admitted that without Ewura’s regulatory contribution in improving the sector a lot more utilities would have been dissolved. “There had been a managerial challenge among these water utilities and the authority’s intervention as per the rules and regulation we’re witnessing improvements in several utilities,” he said.

According to the founding legislation, Ewura is a technical and economical multisector regulator tasked to oversee the energy and water sectors by upholding both interests of investors and the general public.

Information published on the authority’s portal says Ewura plans to meet with its stakeholders during the forthcoming Maji week slated for March 17-21 in Dar es Salaam.

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