1 February 2013

Tanzania: Serengeti Residents Get Relief After Water Supply

Tarime — MS Tausi Amos (45), a special seat councillor in Serengeti District is happy with ongoing efforts meant to improve rural water supply in the district, whose large part is made up of game protected areas including the world famous Serengeti National Park.

The government has been pumping millions of shillings to improve water supply in the district in recent years. Completion of the multimillion Manchira Dam that now supply clean water to Mugumu town and surrounding villages is one of the key significant projects that helps to boost water supply in the district. Construction of Manchira Dam was funded by the government at the cost of 10.2bn/- and officially inaugurated by President Jakaya Kikwete in 2010.

Ms Tausi describes investment on rural water projects as a significant relief to thousands of women, from the burden of walking long distances searching for water. "I feel very excited when I see new water projects in rural areas because it is women who experience water problems," Ms Tausi said shortly after the official inauguration of a new water project at a remote village of Motukeri in Serengeti District recently.

The councillor calls for continued investment on rural water supply, a move which she said will enable women to participate in other developmental issues instead of continuing to spend much of their time searching for water Local leaders estimates that the new project will benefit around 2,300 people and hundreds of livestock at Motukeri village, thanks to Singita Grumeti Fund (SGF) for coughing sufficient funds that has enabled successful implementation of the project within a short period.

The project has been carefully designed to provide clean water for human and livestock consumption, according to Serengeti water experts. Among other things implementation of the project has involved installation of modern infrastructure such as water pipes, setting up a water tank as well as a cattle trough at the village's major natural water source. "I am so happy and impressed.

This is a good project and we must now utilize the facility carefully knowing that it is our project and not for SGF (sponsor )," Motukeri Village Chairman Robert Nyaibara said. The village chairman warned that any one who will be found vandalising the facility will face the music.

"Already we have put in place by-laws to protect water sources and we will not tolerate anyone who will damage this project", the village chief stressed at the inauguration ceremony of the project. SGF says it has sponsored similar water projects in neighbouring villages of Nyiberekera and Makundusi as well as setting up water reservoir tank at Nagusi Ward Secondary School during the same period.

The school has 424 students and several teachers who have started accessing clean water following completion of the project, according to Serengeti officials. "We have 21 public secondary schools in Serengeti and SGF has drilled bore holes in almost every school. This is a positive thing," Mr Josephat Gondagula, in charge of Water Department at Serengeti District Council, said.

Mr Gondagula said SGF has set a good example in supporting ongoing efforts by the government of Tanzania to improve rural water supply in Serengeti District." Rural water coverage in Serengeti stood at 57 per cent, but inauguration of the new projects in the three villages have increased the coverage," the senior water official in the area said.

SGF is non-profit conservation and community development organization that belong to American tycoon, Paul Tudor Jones, who has heavily invested on tourism and conservation sectors in western Serengeti after falling in love with the Serengeti eco-system in recent years. The US billionaire has set up luxurious lodges operated by Singita Grumeti Reserves (SGR) within the vicinity of a 350,000 concession area bordering Serengeti and Bunda districts, Mara Region.

Shortly after the inauguration ceremony of the water project, SGF's Managing Director Mr Brian Harris pledges continued support on communities' social and economic development projects, citing a Joint Venture Agreement (JVA) signed between the American investor and Serengeti District Council in recent months.

"We are proud of the good relationship we have with surrounding communities. We improve the people's living standards as well as our relationship. I am very excited to handle over these water projects to Serengeti District Council today on behalf of Singita Grumeti Reserves.

The aim is to enable our neighbours (local communities) get clean water for domestic use," Mr Brian said when handling over the 83.2mil/- rural water projects to the Serengeti District Council on Wednesday, last week. The handling over occasion was officiated by the Serengeti District Council Chairman, Mr John Ng'oina and witnessed by dozens of people and local leaders.

The council chairman said the presence of the American investor in the district has significantly helped to speed up social and economic development of the area. "The Serengeti District Council is proud to have Grumeti Reserves in our area and we really appreciate their support to the local community. We have every reason to thank God and it is time to thank Grumeti as well," Mr Ng'oina told the gathering shortly after inaugurating the water projects.

Mr Ng'oina expressed optimism that beneficiary villages will register more development in the next few years. The US national investment on community projects is said to have greatly helped to make locals who in the past relied on poaching as their major income, realize the importance of conserving wild animals, according to senior conservators in western Serengeti.

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