10 October 2012

Tanzania: There Is Hope That Gairo Will Have Fresh Water

FOR years residents in the newly established Gairo township, within Morogoro region, have been suffering because of an unremitting water shortage. Currently, they are paying as much as 1000/- for one bucket of water.

One of the places from which they get this precious liquid at a more reasonable price, is from a stand-by pipe next to a butchery that is close to the district offices. This facility comes under the auspices of the local Water Authority, but only provides a daily service from six until eight thirty in the mornings.

That is after the butchery's daily activities are over and the area has been cleaned up. According to residents spoken to, the water from this point, unlike many other locations in the township, has very little salt and is less expensive. There a bucket of water cost them 20/-. During a recent visit to Gairo District, the 'Daily News' had the opportunity to pass by this butchery and talk with the stand-by pipe's attendant, Peter Mwahule.

He confirmed that they were not able to continue supplying water for longer periods of time because of having a limited supply flow. There was also the opportunity to gather views on this undesirable water situation from other residents. One such person is Jumbe Mwende, who rides his bicycle for usually eight kilometres or sometimes a lot more to get water. He then sells this water to residents within the township for 700/- or even more at times.

It is only when he takes water from the stand-by pipe where Mr Mwahule works that his selling price drops to five hundred shillings a bucket. "At any given time of the year, depending from where I get water, the price can reach 1000/- a bucket," Mwende told the 'Daily News' moments before riding-off to deliver another three buckets of water to one of his customers. While roaming the dusty township's streets, the 'Daily News' met a locally-based well technician, Nicolas Chiponda, fixing the system by which water passes through to a stand-by pipe, where residents collect water.

It was him who had connected this system, for which he has the responsibility of keeping in working order, together with a number of others in the township. Mr Chiponda was contracted by over two hundred residents, who own it, to connect this particular system and to follow-up with its maintenance whenever it broke down. He has a number of other arrangements, such as this with other groups of residents within the township.

This is one of the popular ways in which they get water. It is unfortunate that this water is usually salty. He said that this was the third time for him to be fixing it over the two years since the system was installed. This, he thinks, is a good record bearing in mind its operating daily from six in the mornings until six o'clock in the evenings. The price for a bucket of water is 20/-, as is the case at the stand-by pipe where Mr Mwahule works.

The good news is these water blues days in Gairo township will soon be something of the past, according to the District Commissioner (DC), Khanifa Karamagi. During an exclusive interview she assured the 'Daily News' that after the engineers have completed work on an un-going water project, worth 6.6 billion shillings, hopefully by next year December, they will have rectified the situation. She admitted that attempts for this project, which is being financed by the World Bank and the local government, to be ready by last February had failed.

However, she was pleased to say that work had resumed and proceeding fine. "We are optimistic that when this project has finished, hopefully the water problem for Gairo township will be no more. We are making daily follow-ups on it to make sure we meet this deadline," the DC said. It then became necessary to visit a couple sites, where work concerning this water project is being undertaken.

They are situated on the right, immediately opposite the entrance to enter Gairo township, off the main road to Dodoma from Morogoro region. It is there, at various points within this vicinity that the wells, which supply the main facility for this water project are situated. At the time of the visit last month, almost all the infrastructures was in place, with the exception of a few structures around each bore hole, electrical power and the collecting points, from where residents have to go to collect water.

It was fortunate that the Regional Water Department Supervisor for the Wami-Ruvu Basin Office in Morogoro Region, which is under the Ministry of Water, Absalom Ngana, was present. He told the 'Daily News' that the work to dig and construct eight actual wells from which the water supply for this project is coming from should be over by the end of this month (October). He also gave an in-depth explanation as to how the entire system works.

"All the water from these eight wells is pumped up to a large reserve tank from which it passes through a filter into another tank before it is pumped-up to another large tank at the top of Gairo Hill. This water is sent to 40 standby pipes within kiosks at selected points, where residents get water from. They can also have the water brought straight into their respective residents," Mr Ngana added. At this point of the conversation the expert Driller working on the project, Josephat Marwa of Ardhi Water Wells joined the conversation.

He said that the filtering of the water actually starts right there in each well, which is 150 metres deep. A specially-designed piping is used within the well at the levels where water is found. "This means after the water has filtered through the gravel sides it will pass through these specially-designed piping onto the first Low Water Reserve tank, a distant away, which has a capacity of 300,000 litres," Mr Marwa added.

He continued to explain that this water then goes through a state-of-the-art filter system before being entering a secondary reserve tank of the same capacity. At each stage of filtering the level of salt in the water is reduced. From here it is pumped up to the distribution tank with a capacity of one million litres up on Gairo Mountain, from where it will flow by the force of gravity to 40 domestic points, at various places in the township.

It is from these 40 points that residents, who so desire will be able to have a connection directly to their dwellings. To all of this there is a price, which will go towards the project being sustained by the people, who use it. All going to plan, residents of Gairo township will have enough clean, salt-free water for all domestic use by the end of next year.

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