Wednesday, March 23, 2011
WORLD WATER DAY 2011: A CHALLENGE TO TANZANIA
On 22nd March, 2011, Tanzania joined the rest of the world in marking, not celebrating, World Water Day. For Tanzania, this was its 23rd participation on World Water Day, being held nationwide in Mwanza Region with the theme “Water for Cities” (Maji kwa ajili ya miji kukabiliana na changamoto mbalimbali mijini).
Tanzania “marked” instead of celebrating the Water Day as it has not put much effort in ensuring availability of clean and safe water both for urban and rural areas in the country, although it recognizes lack of accessible to good quality water both in urban and rural areas as among of the six major problems for urgent attention.
Of the estimated 1.1 billion people, relying on unsafe drinking water sources worldwide, millions are in Tanzania, where clean water is becoming scarcer by the day. The situation is especially terrible in rural area, where women still walk long distance in search of water.
Most of the water used in such areas come from shallow wells and is usually nothing more than muddy mixture, whose safety can not be guaranteed and official statistics on the availability of clean, safe drinking water in rural areas are highly unrealistic and do not reflect the situation on the ground.
There is also an acute shortage of clean water in urban areas, due to a rapid population increase and unplanned development. Nowhere is the situation better exemplified than in Dar es Salaam, where getting clean water is a daily uphill struggle for the vast majority of the city’s 4 million-plus residents. Another example can be seen in Magu, Ukerewe and Kwimba Districts in Mwanza Region where majority have no access to enough and quality water though some districts are being close to Lake Victoria.
The upgrading of water supply networks in urban areas is not equal to the rate of population increase as cash-strapped authorities struggle to serve growing populations with little or no success. Unless the government substantially increases the budget for the development of the water sector and encourages investment, there is no hope that this problem will get any better.
But for clean water to be supplied to consumers, its sources must be protected and sustained.
Unfortunately, this is not the case as water sources continue to be destroyed with meaningless dispose of in various parts of the country.
People clear whole forests for timber or to make way for farming and settlements, unaware to the fact that doing so is like to destroy their lives and those of future generations.
While Tanzanians look up to the government to provide solutions to their water problems, they too have a role to play in protecting water sources because water is life. The government should also plan for realistic theme that meets the needs at the moment; as the theme given this year is ideal for ensuring availability of clean and safe water neither to cities (urban areas) nor the marginalized rural areas.
Deodatus Kiriba-YET 2011