"THE Tanangozi-Kalenga water project has been running for more than three decades and we hope to continue enjoying its benefits for the next five decades," says Robert Lawa, Mseke Ward Councillor explaining the number of years since the scheme was established.
Life in Tanangozi Village, Iringa District seems very different from many others in terms of water supply as tapes here have rarely run dry; you just go to the bathroom, turn on the shower and water flows smoothly. The reliable water that Tanangozi residents currently enjoy is a result of their deliberate efforts to protect the environment.
The residents say since the water project was launched in 1981, they have been fighting a war against environmental polluters and wanton felling of trees around three water sources of Ididiga, Makota and Igugu.
"We have imposed a number of rules and regulations to protect and guide our environment around all three water bodies which exactly is our heart and blood for the maximum supply of water for domestic consumption," Mr Lawa says.
The project was meant for home consumption only remained so and it seems there are no changes to come even though the amount of water available for the moment can be utilised to cater for small gardens.
The rules and regulations bar all residents from getting close to the water sources, for any reason that might compromise the availability and free fall of water supply; the activities that are strictly prohibited include fetching firewood, rearing livestock, starting fire and fishing.
For every person found violating any of the regulation is fined 500,000/-. Around 100 trees are planted every year to all three locations and to hills of Kichakani, Kihesa, Tanangozi and Kilindi which surround areas harbouring water sources, Village Executives are responsible in providing environment education to all residents benefiting from the project.
More than 12 villages are connected to the main water supply stretching more than 45 kilometres crossing hills and mountains from the gravity sources of Makota, Ididiga and Igugu. The villages are Tanangozi, Wenda, Mseke, Igwachanya, Kalenga, Ipamba, Sadani, Isakalilo, Lupalama, Tosamaganga, Ibagamony and Tungamalenga.
Without strong measures against environment pollution more than 45,000 people would be going without safe and clean water for a number of years to come. Mr Lawa says water and environment committee have developed a defensive mechanisms to ensure that water infrastructures remain safe and areas around Tanangozi, Kilindi, Ihemi, Kihesa and Kichakani hills are not interfered with by polluters who tend to cut trees and graze cattle.
The objective is to provide a better place for growth for natural vegetation which had been there for a long time, every household is encouraged to plant ten trees per annum. There is a clear indication that the environment is being protected as the natural vegetations remain green all over the year.
Mr Lawa says there are some challenges facing the project like illiteracy to some members of the public concerning environment management and poor organisation in disseminating information, all of which are manageable. Yassin Nyalusi, a member for Water and Environment Committee said there are 12 tanks with a capacity to store 5000 gallons of water for each village per hour.
During 1981 the area comprised 12,000 people comparing to 45,000 residing in the same area at the moment, but still there is no shortage of water despite the increase in the population. "The amazing thing is for 32 years the water tape never dried for a reason of water sources being tempered by polluters or otherwise."
Anna Nyembeke, 70 years old, Ugwachanya resident says with a confident smile. The only time they experience water shortage is when technician performs a minor maintenance or cleaning the sources and water tanks. Every household contributes 2000/- monthly to save as payment to technicians, security and purchase of equipment.
"Tanangozi-Kalenga Water Project is one the brilliant undertaking performed by the government, DANIDA and wananchi to have a such long life span compared to same projects established all over the country and lasted for 25 years only, never revived again.
The scheme functions a hundred per cent, no sabotage in infrastructures," says Marianus Mwangamila, retired water engineer. Mwangamila, one of the architect of the scheme said, such project after two decades does need a lot of cash to be injected by wananchi and the government in order to stimulate and bring back to normal and it would be like designing a new venture.
Without spending a large sum of money most of the people who were used to have a reliable supply of clean and safe water found themselves going back to the old days of walking a long distance looking for water which is not safe or clean.
After working for 40 years as civil servant executing water projects in different regions and districts in the country Mwangamila sees a promising future for the scheme because beneficiaries of the project are very committed and they value their effort as 1981 is yesterday. Mwangamila worked as Districts Water Engineer in Njombe, Mufindi, Mbarali and Kilombero.
He says the idea of supplying safe and clean water came after a research conducted during that time showing that residents of Mseke, Ugwachanya and Malengamakali in Iringa District were suffering from water borne related diseases such as bilhaziasis and stomach fever, people from those places travelled a long distance for the sake of searching clean and safe water.
The Danish Aid International Development (DANIDA), the Tanzanian government and 'wananchi' reside in 12 Villages joined their effort 32 years ago in contributing to the success of the project. Wananchi dug the trench DANIDA and the government provided pipes and other equipment.