Arusha Times (Arusha)

16 August 2014

Tanzania: Scramble for Water Threatens Burka Coffee Estates

The government has stepped into the ongoing scramble for water sources within the Burka Coffee estate area by ordering the Pangani River Basin management to join hands with the Arusha City Council as well as the Regional Lands Department to re-survey the controversial area.

"It is also important to ensure that, when conducting fresh mapping, all the surrounding residents are involved in order to clear any shadow of doubt and allay future conflicts," directed the Minister of State, in the Prime Minister's Office, in charge of the Environment, Dr Binilith Mahenge last week.

Dr Mahenge who had visited the Burka Coffee estates in the outskirts of Arusha City, said the government was not happy with the ongoing scramble for the protected water sources within the farms especially where it may lead to breach of peace.

The Minister also instructed the Pangani Water Basin management to fence-off all the natural water springs and streams within the Burka Coffee Estates so as to protect them from pollution, vandalism and other sources of forms of human invasions because they are highly being depended upon by millions of people in Burka and Olasiti sections of Arusha and elsewhere.

The Manager for Pangani River Basin, Mr Joel Lao, raised alarm that there was a big possibility of the water catchment in Burka to totally disappear in ten years' time, as human settlements continue to inch closer to the once preserved area contrary to the previous plans related to conservation.

Farm in-charge, Mr Hamza Kassim said the Burka Coffee Estates were officially given the responsibility to control and protect the water sources in the area in 2006 when also special pipes were installed to help channel the water for irrigation and people's use.

"At least 500 people from Olasiti, Burka and Mateves come to draw water directly here and during drought when the amount decreases conflicts arise and sometimes people flock here destroying the environment in the process," he said.

The farm manager added that the residents draw water free-of-charge even though the Estate Management is compelled to pay for it and the lack of water meters to gauge the consumption it gets difficult to tell how much

water flows into villagers' containers on daily basis.

He added that during drought spell, when the water becomes scarce, the residents usually turn wild, threatening to attack the farm management thinking they are deliberately stopping the water flow.

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