Money flows, water trickles

The challenge of access to clean water in Tanzania persists despite significant investments in recent years.

Spending per person in the water sector increased by a factor of five between 1999/2000 and 2011/2012 but there was no increase in the figures for access to clean water over the same period. In fact, between 1990 and 2011, access has actually decreased from 55% to 53%.

These findings were released by Twaweza in a research brief titled Money flows, water trickles: Challenges of access to clean water in Tanzania. The brief draws on data from Sauti za Wananchi, a nationally representative mobile phone survey of households across Mainland Tanzania, along with data from other sources.

Between 1995 and 2005, Tanzania received $57 per beneficiary in aid for the water sector and saw a decline in access of 1%. In comparison Uganda received $16 per beneficiary over the same period and saw a 25% increase in access to clean and safe water; while Kenya received $17 per beneficiary and saw a 20% increase in access.

Given the decline in access to water despite huge investment, reaching the ambitious Big Results Now targets of 75% of the population having access to clean and safe water will require a complete change in practice. Simply increasing funds for the sector without a robust review of past failures may mean that the same mistakes are repeated.

Perhaps unsurprisingly given the lack of improvement over time, almost one in three (30%) Tanzanians say that water is one of the three most important problems facing the country.

The challenges of water provision continue to be relevant for the majority of people. Almost all (89%) Tanzanians collect water from public sources, meaning only one out of ten (11%) have piped or delivered water. The official government target is for the trip to collect water to take not more than 30 minutes (round trip) but the average time taken is almost an hour (57 minutes).

Sauti za Wananchi also asked who in a household was mainly responsible for collecting water: in three out of four households, it is the female head of the household who must ensure that the household has water for its daily needs.

A small correction has been made to the text above, in the brief and in the press release regarding the data on rural water supply aid received by Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. Originally the figures were cited as 'aid per capita' when they actually refer to 'aid per per capita served': this means aid received per person who obtained coverage. A higher figure means that fewer people obtained coverage relative to the amount of money invested.

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Authors: Ruth Carlitz



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