Poor Water Services among Campaign Issues in Tanzania Election

Hassan Abbas in Dar es Salaam – PROVISION of quality, reliable and affordable clean water services has become one of the topical issues among candidates in the ongoing campaigns for the October polls in Tanzania.

Investigations by this reporter have confirmed that presidential as well as parliamentary contestants for all the major three political parties-the ruling CCM, the main opposition CHADEMA and CUF, who are currently campaigning around the country, have stressed improvement of water service with many voters becoming wary of empty promises.

Apart from the candidate’s promises on the ground, it has been established that, all the three party’s manifestos for 2010-2015 have specifically addressed strategies to improve water availability and reliability, a problem that many people interviewed in the country’s capital business city of Dar es Salaam said is still a monster they struggle with every day.

The Civic United Front (CUF) manifesto associates the current water scarcity in most urban and rural regions as a result of poor policies since the country’s independence nearly 49 years ago.

“Water situation in the country for both domestic and industrial use is very poor. This is a surprising situation in a country with 6 percent of its total area endowed with water bodies,” says the manifesto.

In his campaigns, the party’s presidential candidate, a former World Bank economist, Prof. Ibrahim Lipumba, is promising an overhaul of the water management system by among other steps, investing in hi-tech water basin development, underground water harvesting and privatization of town water management authorities.

On the other front the leading opposition, Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (Democracy and Progressive Party), CHADEMA, its manifesto alleges that it is only a half of the Tanzanian population that can access clean water so that the current governments emphasis on the policy of ‘Agriculture First’ should be ignore to direct efforts on ‘Water First.’

CHADEMA’s presidential candidate, a former Roman Catholic Priest, Dr. Wilbroad Slaa who has attracted massive turnout in his campaigns, insists on committing more funds in the sector in the sector in the next 5 years if elected.

The CCM’s incumbent Jakaya Kikwete, the current President an agro-economist, despite the critics, boasts of what he views as tremendous improvements in the water service provisions in his first 5 years, compared to the situation before him.

“In the past 5 years the governments continued with its efforts to ensure all Tanzanians have access to safe and clean water. Up to last year, 58.3 percent of rural families were able to access clean water compared to 80.3 in urban areas,” says the party’s manifesto.

In his campaign tour in the Southern Highland regions of Rukwa, Iringa and Mbeya, President Kikwete’s promise has revolved around putting more efforts in the investment for water sector but also to ensure that Lake Victoria water project which currently feeds the Lake’s vicinity is expanded to other regions.

Tanzania conducts its general election every after five years on 31st October. The last election was held in 2005 where Jakaya Kikwete was elected with a massive 80 percent win.

The World Bank’s assessment of water provision documents in Tanzania show that many water projects on the ground have shown significant impacts on people’s lives however the challenge still remains in both urban and rural areas.

Other topical issues in the campaigns include corruption, quality of education, provision of healthy services and general infrastructural development.