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.

Get involved

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.