Half empty or half full? Citizens' views on accessing clean water

Just over one out of three citizens (36%) has access to piped water. The majority of citizens rely on either wells (35%) or surface water (18%), which are generally less hygienic sources. The difference between urban and rural areas is significant: half of urban residents (51%) have access to piped water on their premises compared to only 11% of rural citizens. Despite the introduction of the Government’s Big Results Now, and expiry of the Millennium Development Goals, access to piped water has been static in the last year. Overall only 41% of rural residents have access to any kind of improved water source as compared to 69% of citizens in urban areas.

These findings were released by Twaweza in a research brief titled Half empty or half full? Citizens’ views on accessing clean water. The brief is based on data from Sauti za Wananchi, Africa’s first nationally representative high-frequency mobile phone survey. The findings are based on data collected from 1,852 respondents across Mainland Tanzania (Zanzibar is not covered in these results) between 9 and 26 September 2015.

Close to half (44%) of citizens spend over 30 minutes collecting water for their needs, while the government guideline recommends that citizens should not spend more than half an hour per trip to collect water. In both urban and rural areas, around one out of three citizens in both urban and rural areas cite the lack of water points as a major challenge.

In general, citizens experience a range of issues in accessing water, with significant differences in the experiences of rural and urban communities. Rural residents emphasize the distance to water points (47%) and dirtiness of the water (40%), while urban residents are troubled by irregular supply (43%) and cost (40%).

Just over half of citizens (57%) report doing something to make their drinking water safe. The majority of these say that they boil the water (85%). Other popular alternatives are straining (69%) or letting the water stand and settle (38%), but these are not considered, by international standards, to be acceptable methods of water treatment.

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Authors: Melania Omengo



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