TANZANIA’S WATER SUPPLIES

In 1971 Tanzania declared its intention to supply the entire population with clean piped water within a walking distance of 400 metres by 1991. During the first decade of the programme it is estimated that 7.7 million people received piped water for the first time and that some 45% of the population of 19.4 million now enjoys access to clean water. But only 38% of rural dwellers are served, compared with 80% of those in urban areas. Thus Tanzania still has a long way to go.

Dr. Allen Armstrong of the University of Dar es Salaam Department of Geography has been writing in the Daily News about some interesting recent developments as follows:

“The completion of regional water master plans during 1983, covering 17 of its 20 Regions over a 12 year period, represents a major advance towards its target. The plans now provide authorities with basic information previously lacking – a comprehensive water resources inventory, an appraisal of demand and socio-economic issues surrounding water issues and concrete proposals for water supply schemes in a regional, and frequently in a village, context.

The plans, representing a major investment in obtaining water-related knowledge, have been undertaken by eight international consulting firms financed by nine different overseas donors.

Two major lessons have been learned in the process of producing the regional master plans. The first is the need for designing the simplest technologically appropriate solution, stressing ease of construction and operation, low costs and which obviate the need for imported skills and equipment. Early water schemes and development projects in many other fields have failed because they failed to respect these basic criteria.

As a result of experience, recent master plans have suggested an appropriate technological mix, obviously dependent on local conditions, would be 15% gravity water supplies, 20%, surface water pumped, 15% boreholes, 50% shallow wells.

Recent plans have also carried socio-economic studies as an integral component, recognising that community participation is a vital element in installing and, even more so, in operating and maintaining them …. Indeed, the very nature of water supplies implies that it is almost impossible for a centralised official body to construct and run schemes throughout the country and is, therefore, most effectively handled at local level …

Despite clearly defined targets, generous foreign aid and competent technical documents, (Tanzania) is experiencing many problems, which typically and increasingly beset basic needs strategies. In line with the country’s other faltering development programmes, it is beginning to realise that a wide gap remains to be bridged between successful planning and effective implementation.

Allen Armstrong

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