18 February 2012

East Africa: Tanzanians in 11 Towns to Pay More for Water

Tanzanians living in urban areas are already grappling with higher electricity tariffs; it now appears they will soon have to pay more for water as well.

At least eleven water and sewerage authorities countrywide have applied to increase the rates they charge consumers, citing increased operational costs.

Energy and Water Utilities Regulatory Authority (Ewura) director general Haruna Masebu confirmed the plans to increase the tariffs."We have received automatic water supply adjustment applications from at least 11 water supply and sanitation authorities from different regions of the country," Mr Masebu said. He added that unlike the usual tariff adjustment applications, these been triggered by the recent increase in electricity tariffs by 40.29 per cent.

The water supply and sanitation authorities that have applied are Arusha, Babati, Bukoba, Dodoma, Iringa and Kigoma. Others are the Musoma, Mwanza, Singida, Tabora and Tanga urban water supply and sewerage authorities.

Mr Masebu, however, said, "In the course of the public inquiry process, Ewura will collect views of stakeholders, including Consumers Consultative Council, the Government Consultative Council and the general public.

"Those who wish to submit views pertinent to the inquiry are required to submit them in written form by writing to Ewura's director general within the two weeks after the notice," said Mr Masebu.

The Tanzania Electric Supply Company (Tanesco) recently increased power tariffs by 40.29 per cent citing rising operational costs when water levels at its hydroelectric dams became depleted because of drought. Tanesco resorted to thermal generation of power, which involves the use of imported heavy fuel oil and JetA1, in order to meet the shortfall that was created.

The 11 authorities were paying Tanesco a collective total of Tsh6.7 billion ($3.98 million) per annum before the recent increases; their bill will now be Tsh7.8 billion ($4.93 million).

"We have the highest budget for electricity because of the topography of the area, whereby most of our customers live uphill, so we are compelled to use more electricity to pump water," said an official at the Mwanza City Council.

The Council's yearly budget for water provision was Tsh2,311.8 million ($1,447,779); it will now be Tsh3,243.3 million ($2,014,443).The other town that spends heavily on water is Tanzania's designated capital Dodoma, which uses some Tsh1,380.0 million ($818,379) to provide clean water to its inhabitants, an outlay that is expected to rise to Tsh1,936.00 million ($1,193,991) after the recent increase in power tariffs.

The Arusha Water Supply and Sewerage Authority has proposed raising its charges from Tsh478.16 ($0.30) to Tsh493.46 ($0.31) per cubic metre, while Iringa is asking the regulator for a 10.69 per cent raise, from Tsh769.85 ($0.484) to Tsh852.14 ($0.535) and Dodoma's request is for a 13.05 per cent raise from Tsh728.3 ($0.458) to Tsh823.34 ($0.517).

Arusha Urban Water Supply and Sewerage Authority public relations officer Jane Lyaruu told The EastAfrican that the recent power tariff increase has escalated water production costs, prompting the authority to consider raising water tariffs. For instance, Ms Lyaruu said, the authority's electricity bill for water production in its 16 wells alone has soared from $17,184.81 to $24,056.41 per month, a 40 per cent increase.

The authority supplies water to 44 per cent of the 507,903-strong population of Arusha city. Nearly 7.6 per cent of the population is connected to sewerage services.

Tanzania is the largest of the East African countries, with a population of 42.5 million. Despite its large lakes, there are areas that are very dry and cannot support agriculture. In rural areas, women and children can spend several hours a day, collecting water. Only 54 per cent of the population has access to improved water supplies and only 24 per cent have access to adequate sanitation. On average, women and children spend over two hours a day collecting water, and up to seven hours in remote areas. At least 20,000 children die before the age of five each year in Tanzania due to diarrhoeal diseases.

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