AUTHORITIES in Tanzania are working with development partners to transform the Msimbazi River in Dar es Salaam that was once historically a lifeline before suffering suffocation from massive wastes' dump.
Deputy Minister of State Vice President's Office (Union and Environment), Mr Mussa Sima told the Parliamentarians here on Thursday that the river has been subjected to support agricultural activities in its banks and animal rearing to the detriment of the city's population depending on it for other purposes.
"We're working with a number of stakeholders, and the government has planned a special project to improve the basin to respond to existing environmental challenges," he said.
That was the response of the deputy minister, while answering Special Seats Member of Parliament (MPCCM), Zainabu Mndolwa Amiri raised question to know the government's attention to improve water supply from the river to help vegetable farmers, who depend on it as their sole water source.
The MP claimed that the river is now polluted and its water isunsafe for further agricultural activities, yet still support cultivation of vegetables consumed in the city.
"Vegetables consumption is important for the health of the people and a big population of the farmers irrigate their farms with water from the river that is contaminated and unsafe. In the end the same vegetables becomes harmful for human consumption," she pointed out.
The Deputy Minister, Mr Sima acknowledged that the river actually faces environmental challenges including contamination and wastes' dump; however, the government was addressing that by providing public awareness on best ways to protect the water source and the environment.
He said that the new plan, henceforth, will involve development partners and stakeholders interested in reducing flood, controlling soil degradation caused by human activities close to the river.
"We are targeting those communities to continue with their economic activities without affecting the river ... we will need to plant more trees to protect the environment and set appropriate strategies for the public to prevent wastes' dump into the river," Mr Sima said.
His other plans included supporting entrepreneurs with appropriate infrastructures, which do not compromise with the existence of the river.
Section 57 of the Environmental Management Act of 2004 bars permanent human activities and those, which could affect a river and other water body practiced within 60 meters from any water source.
He said that the Minister in the Office of the Vice President has prepared and would roll out a draft guideline to protect any water source.