By Correspondent Daniel Semberya

The Tanzanian government has been working tirelessly to ensure it full fills its Vision 2025 ambitious target of reaching universal water access for the urban population by 2025 and 90% access for the rural population.

These targets are in line with the targets set by Sustainable development (SDG) goal 6 which aims at ensuring availability and sustainable management of water resources and sanitation for all.

However, speaking in an exclusive interview last week with paper Assistant Chairperson of Makokane Knowledge Centre, Kalimawe Ward, Same District, Ms. Amina Juma said the scarcity of clean and safe water in their ward has been a major challenge.

She has said that of the recent two organizations namely ONGAWA and JNC have given hope to them by accepting to make maintenance to their water points.

Juma has commended TGNP for the education awareness they have been offering to their knowledge centers on different issues, which in turn they have been using to educate other members in their communities.

“We are currently fetching water from the lake, which is safe and clean,” she said.

She further urged the government and other stakeholders to provide them with clean and safe water, since water is an essential need for human beings.

Another assistant chairperson of Lugulu knowledge Centre, Same District, Ms. Monica Sempoli said that after their long cry over water scarcity, the government has planned to water to their Ward.

She has therefore commended the government for that initiative of ensuring they have water.

However, she has called upon the government and other key stakeholders to make sure they supply water to health centers and schools.

For her part, Senior Programme Officer Movement Building with TGNP, Ms. Anna Sangai has also commended the government for its efforts of ensuring it fulfills its ambitious target of reaching universal water access to its people.

Sangai said that access flowing water in health centers and hospitals was very essential to all patients, but particularly to women who give births to babies.

“Because of the scarcity of water in other health centers women who are about to deliver are required to go with water,” she said.

She further said that in schools flowing water was also very crucial for all students, but for girls, in particular, he said.

“We insist on the presence of flowing water because safe and clean water protects girl students from contamination that leads them to acquire diseases like UTI, fungus, and other communicable diseases.”

Meanwhile, Sangai has called upon for the government and other key stakeholders to give education awareness to the citizens on how they can harvest rainwater for future use, be it for hospitals, schools, family, or the entire community.

Household Budget Survey (HBS) data (URT2012) indicate that overall access to clean safe water increased from 52% in 2007 to 61% in 2011/12.

Access to clean and safe water for the rural population increased by 12% during the said period, which is from 40% to 52% while for the urban population it decreased from81% to 77%.

Data from Population Housing Census however reported an overall decline in access from 61% reported by HBS to 57% in 2012.

The decline is attributed to two factors, drying of water sources and poor maintenance of water points (Kessy F & Mahali R 2017).

Accessing to clean and safe water remains a gender issue and the declining trends observed threatens the gains achieved so far if the situation is not reversed.

The proximity of water source to the household has an impact on time spent on fetching water which in turn reduces the workload for women who are responsible for household water supply.

Hence another indicator that measures access is the distance from the water source to households. Making reference to various data sources, HDHR Background Paper no 11 (2017) revealed significant progress made in time used by households in fetching water for domestic use.

The urban population with access to water within 30 minutes increased from 68% in 2007 to 73% in 2010. For the rural population, it increased from 28% in 2007 to 47% in 2010. The study further noted that for the entire population access to water within 30 minutes increase from 39% in 2007 to 52%.

The HBS data for 2011/12 revealed that 47% of households fetched water from sources away from their houses 500m rainy season but this proportion declined to 45% during the dry season.

The proportion of population fetching water between 2km and 5km doubled for rural areas from 5.7 in the rainy season to 11.5% during the dry period.

All in all, around 28% of the population live within a distance of 1 km from the water source (URT 2012). Again, this is not an encouraging situation from women’s point of view.

Improving access and reducing distances from water resources largely depend on budgetary increases in this sector. Access to the water supply is also determined by location particularly rural vs urban.

The urban population has greater access to water supply than the rural. This implied rural woman is more overburdened by the task of supplying water for domestic use than their urban counterparts.

Universal Access to safe drinking water by 2025 through involving the private sector, empowering local communities, and promoting broad-based grassroots participation in mobilizing knowledge and expenses.

Universal access will release women from the burden of supplying domestic water for household use.

National Water Policy (2002):

The policy recognizes the burden which women carry in the supply of domestic water and commits fair representation of women in village water user institutions, water programs to be determined by both men and women’s needs while involving them in management water programs.

It also provides for a need to empower women so as to enable them to effectively participate in the decision-making processes of the sector.

The Water Resource Management Act, 2009:

Spells out water as a human right, spells out promotion of equitable access to water as an overriding principle, as well as the provision of public participation in development policies, plans, and programs.

This principle is however undermined by the shift from making water a common good into an economic right whose cost has to be shouldered by users.

Economically disadvantaged users will not be able to bear this cost and hence women in poor households will likely continue to shoulder the burden of walking distances to meet the needs of their households.

The National Water Sector Development Strategy (2006): 

Although gender equality is not directly mentioned, one of the priority focus areas for determining investment is to ensure the disparities of access to the water supply. This might impact the workload which women carry in supplying water for domestic use.

Water Supply and Sanitation Act No 12 (2009):  

Although the Act delegated management function to the lowest level, as well as ownership of water schemes to the local level entities, which allows women to participate in village water schemes, the cost implication might disadvantage women and poorer communities.

Water and Utility Act 2005: Gender blind:

Participation, access, and benefit from water resources

The Institutional Framework for managing and supplying water allows some level of participation if the mechanism is based on the bottom-up approach.