Clean, Safe Water Remains A Pipe Dream For The Poor
6 February 2012
Ms Asha Zugile, a resident of Kola village in Coast Region’s Kisarawe District, says that during the dry season, she, and fellow women face difficulties in accessing water because they do not have boreholes as they depend on traditional wells which also dry up.Ms Zugile says even during the rainy season, they are not assured of safe and clean water due to lack of modern water facilities.
“We neither have tap water nor modern water wells in this village. During the season, we spend a lot of time to look for water in the streams and a few wells,” she says.The village primary school also does not have a wash facility, compelling the pupils to wear dirty uniforms, but they aren’t punished because the teachers acknowledge the problem.
Ms Asha’s plight is captured by the latest joint report of World Health Organisation (WHO) and United Nations Children and Education Fund (UNICEF), which indicates that in 2010, there were 19.6 million Tanzanians without access to clean water and 32.4 million without access to sanitationThe government spends 0.94 per cent of GDP, or Sh468bn a year on water and sanitation services, according to an official report.
The latest report of WaterAid states that in Tanzania, the Water Sector Development Programme has been through a turbulent year in 2011.“Donors stopped releasing funding to the basket in April 2010.
The government of Tanzania has also not met its financial commitment to the programme,” reads part of the report.
Funds provided by the Government were around two-thirds short of its original commitment for financial years 2007-08 through to 2009-10, according to the report.
This shortfall in funds has led to a financial crisis in the water sector and caused a serious delay in programme implementation, with works halted in some cases.
WaterAid, an international Non Governmental Organisation, recently launched a project worth of £17 million (Sh37.4 billion) to support five million Tanzanians for the next five years.
Speaking at the special occasion for launching the project, the Head of WaterAid international programme, Mr Girish Menon, said that under the five-year strategic plan, at least four million Tanzanians will indirectly benefit, while the remaining one million will directly benefit from the projects on improving sanitation and safe water supply.
He said the one million direct partners were expected to take initiatives in embarking on relevant technologies for improving safe water supply and sanitation services.
“This big project is in line with the national strategy for reducing poverty which is popularly known as MKUKUTA II, aiming at reducing the number of people not accessing safe water by half under the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)” Mr Menon said.
He said currently only 66 per cent of 42 million Tanzanians access safe water and only 26 per cent of Tanzanians access improved sanitation services.
“We will mobilise local initiatives to implement this big project. We will engage the local governments and local communities to make the strategic plan successful,” he said.
He also said they look forward to co-operating with the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training for mobilizing schools wash project in a bid to improve sanitation in primary and secondary schools.
In his recent speech at the official project launch, the deputy minister for Education and Vocational Training, Mr Philipo Mulugo, said that the project was very significant to the government and Tanzanians, because it fits very well in its target of attaining MDGs by halving the number of citizens not accessing water services.
“This project is also important for fighting waterborne diseases, especially diarrhoea which is the second biggest killer of under- five children,” Mr Mulugo said.
The draft National Sanitation and Hygiene Policy which was facilitated by the Ministry of Water will soon be submitted to the Cabinet, he said.
The Deputy Minister also warned that he was set to ensure that all DEDs found to steal the donated funds ended up in jails.
“Do not get surprised if I will press for jailing the directors of the local councils who are accused of stealing the funds donated by WaterAid,” said Mr Mulugo, amidst laughter from the audience.
He also said that due to efforts of WaterAid in complementing government’s efforts in tackling the challenges of improving water and sanitation services for the majority of citizens, the organization is being recognized by the three ministries, including the one he is in charge of, that of water, as well as health and social welfare.
According to him, the country has more than 16,000 primary schools and 4,367 secondary schools, but only 20 per cent of schools have good latrines, while six percent of schools have no latrine at all.
“Our target is to have 20 female pupils with one hole of latrine and 25 male students with one hole, but it has never been attained,” the deputy minister said.
The Country WaterAid communications manager, Ms Christina Chacha, says that in the past their organisation had focused on the remote regions, to reach rural poor and marginalised communities to spread benefits to at least 59,000 people.
She says WaterAid is an international organization working in 27 countries across Africa, Asia, the Pacific and Central America to transform lives by improving access to safe water, hygiene and sanitation in the world’s poorest communities.
The report shows that the goal of ‘water and sanitation for all’ was established over 30 years ago during the first UN International Decade of Water Supply and Sanitation (1980-1990).
“A decade later, Millennium Development Goal (MDG 7) set a global target to halve the proportion of the global population without access to water. In June 2010, the UN General Assembly declared that access to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation are universal human rights essential to the full enjoyment of life and all other rights,” the report reads in part.
In May 2011, the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) committed to achieving water and sanitation for all by 2020.
MDG 7 addresses environmental sustainability, with a target (Target 10) to ‘halve by 2015 the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation.
Under the national strategy for growth and reduction of poverty, MKUKUTA II, the government has set water targets in accessing water in terms of percentage of population at 65 per cent for rural areas, 57 per cent for small towns, 95 per cent for urban areas, 75 per cent for Dar es Salaam and sanitation targets of 35 per cent for rural people and 45 per cent for urban areas by the year 2015.
The 2015 deadline for meeting MDG targets for water and sanitation is little more than three years away and a massive challenge still remains.The MDG Review Summit in 2010 reported that 884 million still lack access to clean water and 2.6 billion are still without sanitation globally.
Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest number of people without access to water and only 20 countries in the region are on track to meet the MDG water target.According to WaterAid report, the water sector projects are also favour inhabitants of urban centres as opposed to their rural counterparts who get fewer funds.
“In Tanzania, the formula-based system used by local government is a step towards achieving equity and has led to more transparent and accountable planning and budgeting, but the formula has not been consistently applied and there is an absence of good data,” reads part of the report.
SOURCE: The Citizen
The Report adds: “There have also been significant discrepancies between the formula based and the actual allocation, with districts with low access rates receiving insufficient allocations and others getting more than the formula provides.”
The Water Sector Development Programme (WSDP) has also allocated 60 percent of its funding towards urban services, while the highest poverty levels are in rural areas, according to the report.
High-level political commitments are welcome but in many developing countries have not yet translated into significant increases in public investment or the much-needed strengthening of public institutions, and poor people living without access to WASH have long since grown tired of empty rhetoric and broken promises, the report shows.
“Meeting these commitments requires effective and credible planning backed by substantial increases in funding from governments and donors – in Sub-Saharan
Africa alone there is an estimated annual funding shortfall of around US$15 billion – targeted to ensure investments benefit those who need them most.”
Progress on sanitation has been even slower: despite all the commitments, sanitation provision has not kept pace with increases in population, and there are more people without access to sanitation in the world today than there were in 1995.
The latest projections show that the 2015 MDG sanitation target will be missed by as many as one billion people.
At the MDG Review Summit, it was noted that slow progress on WASH, particularly sanitation, in developing countries is holding back progress on all other MDGs.
“Ultimately it is the world’s poorest people that pay the highest price for the lack of progress. Diarrhea, 88 percent of which is due to inadequate WASH, is now the biggest killer of children in Africa and the second leading cause of death of children under five worldwide.”
Under the report, there are also significant differences in access levels in rural and urban areas and between rich and poor people.
“The rural population without access to clean water is over five times greater than that in urban areas. It is estimated that 94 per cent of the urban population in developing countries has access to clean water, compared to 76 per cent in rural areas, and 68 per cent of the urban population has access to improved sanitation, compared with only 40 per cent in rural areas.”
In Sub-Saharan Africa, rich people are more than twice as likely as poor people to have access to clean water, and almost five times as likely to have access to improved sanitation, according to WaterAid.
“Gender inequality is also very marked. For families without a drinking-water source at home, it is usually women and girls who go to collect drinking water. Surveys from 45 developing countries show that this is the case in almost three-quarters of households. “
This can involve several hours of walking and carrying water a day, reducing the time available for childcare, household chores or productive activity, and preventing children from attending school.
“Menstrual hygiene management has also been widely neglected in delivery of WASH services. Lack of access to water and sanitation can also increase the risk for women of sexual harassment and rape, as they have to go to remote areas, often in darkness, to collect water or defecate.”
According to the report, although industrialised (donor) countries regularly repeat their intention (first agreed in 1970) to allocate 0.7 per cent of their gross national income (GNI) as overseas aid16, this is a distant prospect now for many EU countries, as they cut aid budgets in response to the current economic downturn and increased levels of public debt.
An in-depth study focusing on the need for water and sanitation infrastructure in Sub-Saharan Africa by the African Union, African Development Bank, World Bank and others estimated a financing requirement of US$22.6 billion a year.
This compares with existing spending of US$7.9 billion, leaving a gap of around US$15 billion, the report shows.
The recent study estimated that on average countries in Sub-Saharan Africa needed to spend 3.5 per cent of GDP each year on WASH to achieve the MDGs, of which 2.6 per cent was needed for water and 0.9 per cent for sanitation.
For low income countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, total WASH needs were much higher than the average and ranged between 7 and 1 percent of GDP.
Given all these myriad problems, definitely the poor of the poorest are the most affected by inaccessibility of water services.
« Return to news archives