Earlier this week, Tanzanian government officials vowed to improve water access and sanitation conditions for its millions of citizens residing in urban and rural areas.
Conditions in the country have become extensively dire since the end of the past century. The Tanzanian government intends to establish either a water fund or agency through legislation that it believes will be brought to the government’s House by next year.
Climate change is not helping the problem. The Great Ruaha River has consistently experienced dry spells since the late 1990s. In fact, since the dry spells began, the population along the river basin has doubled from 3 to 6 million inhabitants.
Currently, only 40 percent of Tanzanians have access to clean water. The government hopes that percentage will jump to 75 percent by next year with additional funding for water programs in rural areas.
While a lack of accessible clean water in Tanzania causes health concerns, including diarrhea, cholera and typhoid, the lack of water throughout the country has created problems for farmers and businesses. Inadequate water supplies continue to generate crop shortages and failures.
While water shortages remain a problem, the vast majority of Tanzanians do not have access to sanitation. Critics have argued that the government does not spend enough on water and sanitation facilities given the country’s large and increasing population.
For years, the government has not possessed the necessary funds to improve the problem. Coupled with indifferent and at times uninterested community leaders, the country continues to experience hardships at a local and national level. Numerous towns and cities throughout the country are in need of new water infrastructure and repairs to existing equipment. A 1997 report estimated that an equivalent of 620 million U.S. dollars was required to fix the problem.
Fortunately for Tanzanians, the government has started to begin work on water projects with the intention to provide water for rural and urban communities. It is thought that educating Tanzanians about sanitation and safe water principles may help to alleviate the problem.
Yet, part of the challenge involves getting local community leaders to be both engaged and trained to help oversee the individual projects. Many local leaders lack an adequate knowledge about the water infrastructure.
However, the government intends to train and educate the communities about the projects, some of which has already begun. Observers believe that through a coordinated effort among the government, local leaders and Tanzanians, the country can make a difference in improving sanitation conditions and water in Tanzania.
– Ethan Safran