30 March 2014

Tanzania: Emphasis Should Now Be On Rain Water Harvesting

WATER scarcity even in places previously known to have been of good supply and the escalating demand, it appears that rainwater harvesting is the most promising alternative for supply of freshwater.

The pressure on both rural and urban water supplies, with the vivid effects of climate change, that include prolonged drought and floods, the need arises for the general public to be guided and cultivate the culture of rainwater harvesting to alleviate the situation.

Water supply being part of the vital social services cannot be left in the hands of the government to provide everything. Rain water harvesting is a simple technology that every family can practice.

The technology of collection and storage of rain water for various uses has been in existence since history but unfortunately not popularised in Tanzania. The abundant water supply that characterised the past perhaps overshadowed the need for rainwater harvesting.

But as time goes by with the increasing demand for fresh water, the practice which in essence is cost effective becomes increasingly imperative. The urgent need for a reliable supply to the growing population, rural and urban alike cannot be overstated.

Rural population, for example, is heavily dependent on agriculture for their livelihood and the availability of water largely determines their well being. They also need clean and safe water for domestic purposes. Rain water is free but not seriously harvested.

Rapid population growth in urban areas coupled with construction of industries adds pressure on the demand for clean and safe water. Destruction of water sources in different parts of the country has aggravated the situation. The focus has now become identification of ground water sources which are equally costly in drilling.

But, billions of litres of rainwater are being lost in urban centres and rural areas. We urge concerned authorities to take an affirmative action to make sure that rainwater harvesting at both residential areas as well as public institutions like schools, hospitals and industries becomes an obligation.

Rainwater harvesting needs simple catchments, the collection device and the conveyance system. Roof top catchments or any impervious and clean surface can serve the purpose. Rain falls on them and flows down to a collection container for domestic uses.

The surface catchments or land surface is a less complex way of collecting rainwater. This technique is mainly suitable for storing water for agricultural purposes or for animals to drink. We believe it is time families were directed to make a simple investment, for example, buying gutters to harvest rainwater.

Concerned authorities therefore should disseminate the necessary information on rainwater harvesting. The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) stipulate that the world should halve the number of people without access to clean water and sanitation by the year 2015.

For Tanzania to meet this target, it means ensuring improved access to safe water for more than 30 million people. Water resources management remains a major challenge and priority should be on rainwater harvesting for the population to have access to clean water.

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