Tag Archives: public services

Rural water supply in Tanzania since independence, and for the next 50 years

It is, quite rightly, the season for raising our eyes and looking up at the horizon. December 9th, 2011 will mark 50 years since the British flag came down on Tanganyika and the country’s life as an independent nation began. So what better time to think a little further than the hot political issue of the day (which is usually forgotten within a week or two) or even most NGOs’ furthest horizon – the 5 year strategic plan?

There are plenty of others who are better placed to assess Tanzania’s past achievements and future prospects in political or economic terms, so I won’t trespass on their terrain. But I can say something about rural water supply. In particular, I have identified two themes of change in the sector – covering the past 50 years and the next – that I think may be of interest. Continue reading

The politics of water supply are coming to the boil

This blog has long argued that the major challenges in the water sector are more political than technical. We have also highlighted the fact that the political nature of the challenges has not been matched by political attention. Water supply was largely ignored in the 2010 election campaigns, for example, not featuring in the major campaign promises of any of the big three parties’ presidential candidates nor gaining much attention in election media coverage (here and here).

Now, four separate developments in the past few weeks point to a change in the politics of water supply in Tanzania. So what are the new developments, and what is the change that they point to? Continue reading

“Undertaking” Tanzania’s Water Sector Development Programme?

I spent two days last week at the annual Joint Water Sector Review meeting – the so-called “highlight” of the annual calendar of “dialogue”. This was the sixth such meeting to be held – and I have the “distinction” of having attended all of them. But as you can probably guess from the profusion of “inverted commas” in this paragraph, I’m having serious doubts about the whole exercise. Before I come to that, though, let me give you some background.

Around 250 people from the Ministry of Water, other related government ministries and agencies, the “development partners” and civil society all attended, in the workshop factory that is Ubungo Plaza. All the main stakeholders were there. Apart from water consumers that is, who are only represented in the sense that everyone consumes water. And those consumers (or perhaps I should call them citizens) weren’t represented by their official representatives either – no MPs or local councillors attend, with the exception of the Ministers officiating at the formal opening and closing sessions. We civil society folks had to take on that role. Continue reading

Are our children learning?

Let’s start with the good news. If you are a final year (St 7) Primary School student in Bukoba Urban, with parents who completed secondary education and who are not very poor, you went to pre-school and your family speaks Swahili at home, then you have a 95% chance of being able to completed Standard 2 level tests in Numeracy, Swahili and English.

And the bad news: If you are a St 7 student in Kibondo District, with parents who didn’t themselves attend school and are poor, the chance of you being able to complete the same tests is only 9%. Continue reading

It’s time to take sexual abuse of children in Tanzania seriously

UNICEF’s report into violence against children in Tanzania, published earlier this month, should be a wake up call for Tanzania. Based on an extensive survey in 2009, it finds that almost three in ten girls in Tanzania are sexually abused by the time they reach 18 years of age. The same is true for one in seven boys. These are pretty shocking findings. But perhaps not very surprising to anyone familiar with the Tanzanian education system.

In Daraja’s Kwanza Jamii Njombe local newspaper, we have had several stories relating to the sexual abuse of children, particularly by their teachers. I can’t say whether this is a growing problem, but it’s certainly a hot issue in the minds of students and parents in Njombe. Many, many cases have come to our attention since we started our paper, on top of those (also numerous) we had come across previously. Continue reading

Answering the wrong question – privatisation and the right to water

The UN General Assembly recently adopted a resolution recognising the “right to water”. On the face of it, this is hardly a controversial resolution, since who would oppose something as obviously vital as water. But dig a little deeper, and there are some tricky issues here.

For many advocates of this right, the UN resolution has been used as an opportunity to re-open the privatisation debate that burned strongly and divided many over the past two decades. A recent special issue (No. 533) of Pambazuka, a magazine promoting freedom and social justice in Africa, focuses on “Water and Privatisation”, aiming to do just that. The argument is that if water is a basic human right, surely it should be available for free. Or at least, multinational corporations should not be allowed to profit from its provision. Continue reading

Sungura na Kobe – Up-country internet speeds in “ICT-Hub” Tanzania

An old Greek fairytale tells of the hare (sungura) and the tortoise (kobe) having a race. The hare runs back and forth, teasing the tortoise about how easy the win will be. Eventually the hare is so far ahead that it stops for a rest and falls asleep. When the hare wakes up, it finds that the tortoise has already finished.

I often have this story in mind when trying to connect to the internet here in Njombe. We have 2 main options – TTCL “broadband” and Vodacom “mobile broadband” (there are other mobile networks providing internet access as well, but Voda stands out well above the others). Continue reading