2 February 2013

Tanzania: In Focus

The University of Illinois, the Nelson Mandela Africa Institute of Science and Technology and their partners have prepared an Agenda on safe water to drink in Arusha this week. Arusha City is certainly one of the preferred venues in Eastern Africa for developing the Safe Water Agenda because water in the City is seriously scarce, unsafe and wasted.

The Agenda calls for water experts to reveal causes of water scarcity focusing on climate change as one of such causes. Drying of water sources and streams in Arusha are used as evidence of impact of climate change on water. Climate change is associated with poverty and malnutrition which are aspects that are arguably evident in the City.

The Agenda allows academics to explain climate change and to distinguish climate change caused by nature from the change caused by human activities in order to determine aspects that human beings can address to prevent further scarcity of water. Focus on causes of climate change is on Global rather than Arusha perspectives since Arusha City does not contribute to causes of climate change significantly. Meanwhile, those who prepare that part of the Agenda make efforts to prove that effects of climate change affect people in Arusha as they do elsewhere in the world, albeit differently.

Experts will use the relevant session of the Agenda to impress that it is important to address causes of climate change in order to prevent disasters in the future. They will also refer to the Agenda to call for people to adapt to climate change because the process of change has long started. Presenters will address the climate change session in such a manner to show urgency of the matter.

Needless to repeat, the Safe Water Agenda is relevant to Arusha in many ways. For example, the water from more than fifty water springs and more than six Rivers that are located in Arusha City is unsafe to drink. Therefore, residents of Arusha will be enlightened on water borne diseases when experts address part of the Agenda concerning diseases that are caused by unsafe water. Examples of water borne diseases are diarrhea, cholera, typhoid and anemia. Many water borne diseases are common in Arusha. By the way, the World Bank estimates that unsafe water to drink, lack of hygiene and sanitation cause 88% of all diseases.

The Agenda guides experts to explain how microorganisms like virus and bacteria make water unsafe to drink. In addition, the Agenda provides a framework for experts to explain negative impacts of certain minerals that occur naturally in water. Other experts will use the Agenda to share knowledge in order to show how bacteria from faeces and chemicals from human activities like agriculture pollute water making it unsafe to drink.

The Agenda has been established to provide a platform for experts to explain the media which allow bacteria, virus, unsafe minerals and chemicals to contaminate water which humans use thereby causing fatal diseases.

Of particular interest for Arusha is the fact that the Agenda provides an opportunity for experts to develop appropriate technologies to analyze effectively the factors that cause water to be unsafe. Next on the Agenda is a session to guide experts to develop appropriate technical and social solutions to address problems associated with unsafe water to drink. There are technical solutions that include engineering and chemical technologies. For example, engineers will develop technologies like appropriate filters or instruments to enable people to re-use waste water efficiently. Apparently, waste water is a source of energy.

On the other hand, social solutions to address the problems include emphasizing the role of women in preventing the problem. Other social solutions are education, hand washing, use of toilets, boiling water and empowering communities to own water supply, hygiene and sanitation practices.

The Agenda suggests that interdisciplinary solutions are required to address problems associated with unsafe water. Therefore, the experts who prepared the Agenda emphasize the importance of networking among Academics, Governments, Donor institutions, Private Sector and Non-State Actors in order to solve the problems effectively.

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