It’s Maji Week, so a good time for some more analysis of key water supply issues. Several times this blog has presented arguments that the main challenges in rural water supply are political rather than technical or even administrative. We’ve argued, for example, that two of the biggest problems (inequitable distribution of access to clean and safe water in rural areas and keeping rural waterpoints functioning) are both political issues, and reported on how this perspective is far from the conventional wisdom in the water sector, dominated as it is by engineers and technocrats. And we’ve shown how political attention has failed to match the political nature of the sector by documenting how little focus there was on water supply in last year’s general election campaigns – as reflected both in campaign manifesto commitments or in the media (and again here). But we’ve not yet looked at one of the most politicised aspects of rural water supply – data. Continue reading
The challenge of making clean and safe water accessible in rural Tanzania is political rather than technical or administrative. As this blog has discussed a couple of times in the past (see here and here), deciding where new water supply infrastructure should be built as well as keeping that infrastructure functioning are political challenges. We’ll take this argument further in this post, in the context of Tanzania’s current general election campaign, but let’s begin with a brief recap of why water supply is a political issue.
First, someone has to make a decision over which villages get priority for new projects. That’s a political decision, as evidenced by the fact that in practice it is generally villages that have some kind of political influence over decision makers that get priority. Many of these villages already have relatively good access to clean and safe water, but that fact doesn’t carry much weight when decisions are made. (See TAWASANET’s Water Sector Equity Reports for 2008 and 2009 for more detailed analysis). Continue reading
This week is Maji Week, an annual opportunity to focus wider attention on the water sector. It includes an exhibition of related organisations, this year in Kibaha, and the media typically use the opportunity to persuade many of these organisations to pay for articles and advertisements in special supplements.
But just a quick look at the exhibition stands reveal that the sector is still failing to recognise that delivering safe and clean water to people is a political issue at least as much as it is technical. On display are a range of drilling, pumping and purifying technologies, while hardly anybody is talking about the role of governance, politics and management. Continue reading
This paper grew from what was originally a short sub-chapter on water, sanitation and hygiene in Tanzania for UNICEF’s Situation Analysis of Women and Children in Tanzania, 2009. It became a much more thorough analysis, turning into the most complete assessment of the sector that I’m aware of.
Unfortunately, though it was intended for publication by UNICEF, this has not yet happened. It now seems unlikely that it ever will be published, though the version linked above has been widely circulated in Tanzania.
Management for sustainability: practical lessons from three studies on the management of rural water supply schemes was the rather unwieldy title for a paper summarising three studies on the same topic for WaterAid Tanzania. It was published in June 2009, alongside a rather more accessible and catchy briefing paper: Addressing the Sustainability Crisis. Continue reading