Standard Four pupil at Madamu Primary School in Morogoro Rural District Seleman Nassoro turns the wheel around to pump water from the well donated by Coca-Cola Kwanza. (Photo by Staff Photographer)
ACCESSING clean and safe drinking water for most residents in Rural Morogoro District has been a dream that was realised recently, thanks to the initiative by the Tanzania Water and Development Alliance (WADA) project.
The phase II WADA project, implemented since 2010 in 15 villages, is currently serving around 14,000 people, thus lifting them from many waterborne and poverty- related diseases.
According to World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates, water-related health problems kill more than five million people annually with children under five years being the most affected victims.
In a recent tour to some of the villages, organised by Coca- Cola Kwanza, the key financier of the project, it was noted that many people, particularly women, were before the project travelling long distances in search of the precious liquid, wasting much time for engaging in other economic activities.
Other partners in the project included the United States for International Development (USAID-Tanzania), Global Water for Sustainability (GLOWS), Florida International University, CARE International, World Wildlife Fund (WWF), University of Dar es Salaam and Wami- Ruvu Basin Water Office. The total funding for the scheme until it was completed last year was 2.2m US dollars.
WADA II is nested within a broader USAID-Tanzania initiative, the Integrated Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (iWASH) programme, allowing opportunities for synergy of efforts. For Tatu Shabani, a mother of two at Madamu Village, before the project was introduced into her area she spent almost two hours to reach the water source. Currently it takes 20 minutes only to fetch water from the nearby pump.
"We have been spending most of the day fetching water, and the situation was terrible during the dry season where a person walked three hours to get to the water source.
But we are currently assured of reliable source although during the dry season, the water volume decreases," she said. According to the country's water policy and USAID standards, the distance from a residential house to the water source should be around 400 metres at an estimated 30 minutes. But the WADA project has surpassed the standards that the maximum time to the water pump is around 20 minutes.
Ms Ashura Issa, (30), mother of three children, said the project has relieved women from the burden of looking for water. "Apart from walking long distances in search of water before the project was launched, most of the families were suffering from water-borne diseases," she said.
With WADA II project, a total of 27 shallow water pumps were constructed at a cost of around 250,000/- and 300,000/- each estimated to serve around 200 people per pump.
According to Mr Leodgard Haule, the iWASH Deputy Country Director, some gravitational schemes have been implemented under the project supplying water to Mtamba, Kinole, Matombo and Kiroka villages.
Similarly, he said a total of 10,063 students from 15 schools are beneficiaries of the water project as well as latrine blocks. "Each school has been provided with a shallow rope water pump and latrine block for both boys and girls, thus putting the students in the most hygienic environment," he said.
Despite the poor community participation during the project implementation, where sensitization meetings were held regularly, Mr Haule said the demand for water has soared up and in some places it created need for more pumps.
"The situation has created the need to deepen the present shallow wells to increase the volume of water. This project will be implemented by CARE Tanzania to cater for the ever growing demand," he said.
Also, to ensure the projects remains sustainable, WADA formed a community water supply organisation among the villagers. Currently, each family is contributing 500/- per month for buying spare parts and servicing the water pumps.
Furthermore, WADA trained one technician to supervise the water pumps in each village, carrying regular service to the pumps. WADA Phase II project is a three-year programme developed to directly address the country's pressing need for water supply, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) for the rural poor, while also addressing linkages between water supply and watershed protection and management.
This project targeted the Wami-Ruvu River Basin, to provide a unique and powerful opportunity to complement currently funded initiatives and promote integrated, sustainable management of natural resources.
Although Tanzania has relatively abundant water resources, these resources are not evenly distributed. Poorly regulated water abstractions and limited capacity for management of water resources has resulted in decreased water security both for people in the City of Dar es Salaam, who depends heavily on the Ruvu River, and for the environment, including Sadaani National Park at the mouth of the Wami River.
Local partners implemented an integrated set of activities that include increasing sustainable and equitable access to basic water supply and sanitation services and improving community health and well-being in the rural areas of the target watersheds.
The programme identified and protected important water source areas, establish and implement reserve flow allocations to ensure water to downstream ecosystems, strengthen capacity of water resource governance structures and develop environmental management systems that engage the private sector in protecting water quantity and quality.
The programme also provided opportunities to build on successes from the first WADA programme in Tanzania, which targeted the Wami-Ruvu River Basin as a region of great importance for biodiversity conservation and for improvement of rural potable water supply.
Access to safe drinking water is a major problem in most communities in developing nations where a substantial percentage of the population depends on unsafe sources to meet their needs.
The WHO estimates that about 1.1 billion people rely on unsafe drinking water sources in developing countries and that the lowest drinking water coverage rates of 58 per cent are in sub- Saharan Africa. Some health experts say safe drinking water is that precious fluid containing microbial, chemical and physical characteristics that meet the WHO guidelines or national standards on drinking water quality.
According to the Ministry of Water, demand for the indispensable liquid has increased considerably due to increased population and socio-economic activities.
Currently, the country's urban and rural water supply coverage is about 73 per cent and 53 per cent respectively, for domestic use. It thus implies that three in 10 urban residents have difficulty in accessing clean and safe water, while one in two of their rural counterparts has a similar experience.
Therefore, it is against this background that all hands ought to be on deck to invest in systems that address the needs of the people. Coca-cola Kwanza, one of the key financiers of WADA phase II project has shown the way that other state and non state actors should follow the footsteps.