Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania’s capital city, is in the middle of an economic boom but with a very uncertain water future. Population growth, investment, industry and per capita consumption are straining an already vulnerable water source; demand for water is likely to double in the next 15 years, causing much of the city to face extreme water scarcity.
A worrying situation
It is estimated that over 50 % of the city’s population is already un-served by the water company, which is struggling to reduce its estimated 60 % of water losses through leaks and illegal connections. Shortfalls in piped supply are being met by thousands of largely unregulated private or community boreholes into the city’s over-abstracted groundwater reserves. Many have been affected by salt water intrusion and have had to be abandoned. Use of the city’s shallow groundwater is also problematic because of contamination by pollution from industry, waste and sewage disposal.
In addition, the deterioration of the Wami-Ruvu River Basin, which supplies the city with water from the Uluguru Mountains, is also a cause for concern. Deforestation, largely unregulated abstractions, poor land and water use practices, illegal alluvial gold mining and direct pollution are all causing significant risks to downstream users. The high likelihood of increasing floods and droughts as a result of climate change, coupled with ambitious government plans for irrigation and power generation in the Wami-Ruvu River Basin makes the short to medium term situation very uncertain for the city’s water users.
The start of a powerful partnership
Water Futures-Tanzania is working to bring stakeholders from different sectors together to develop action-orientated solutions for better management of water in the Wami-Ruvu River Basin and the city of Dar-es-Salaam. Already, Tanzanian Breweries Ltd (TBL), WWF Tanzania, the South African Bottling Company (Sabco - Tanzania) and German International Cooperation GIZ have joined together as a business, NGO and development agency to tackle this challenge.
Together, TBL, WWF, and GIZ conducted a water risk assessment for Dar-es-Salaam and the Wami-Ruvu River Basin, to better understand the current and future water risks facing the city, and the options and business case for tackling them. The issues are complex, but the conclusions are clear: urgent action is needed to avert a water crisis, and this will take the combined efforts of all parties that want secure water supplies for the City of Dar-es-Salaam.
In addition to two interventions with JiCA and WRBO on borehole monitoring and DAWASCO on Non-Revenue Water reduction, there is an ongoing activity on Mlalakua River restoration and pollution control, that WFP is implementing with Coca-Cola Kwanza, Nabaki Afrika, NEMC, UNEP, IUCN and the City Council. A situational analysis study is underway to establish the extent of pollution and river encroachment, and, at a later stage, counter-measures will be proposed. In the same project, we are now undertaking a stakeholders’ identification and engagement, for collective action.
The CEO Water Mandate has also asked GIZ to conduct a stakeholders’ identification exercise for the Wami Ruvu Water Action hub. This will be an online knowledge sharing platform, where different actors will convene for knowledge exchange. WFP is also looking into Community water supply projects that TBL could champion.
Working alone, TBL, GIZ, Sabco and WWF can only make small steps to tackle the challenges facing water supply to Dar-es-Salaam. It is only through collective action by a number of other water users – from business, community-based organisations, NGOs, development agencies and the government – that we can achieve a secure water future for Dar-es-Salaam.
Having successfully tested these small-scale partnerships under the umbrella of Water Futures, it is now worth to consider a putting in place a strategy that shall guide our actions in Tanzania. The Water Futures Initiative, as an strategic alliance between public sector, private sector and civil societies, will likely prove to be the most efficient model.