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Expert puts Tanzania water challenges in perspective

19th March 2012

As we mark the Water Week 2012 on “Water and Food Security”, Our Business Correspondent, spoke to Commercial Manager, Moshi Urban Water Supply and Sanitation Authority [MUWSA], Joseph E. Swai, on the challenges the water industry is facing…

QUESTION. Being in the water sector for a time now, what challenges do you think the sector is facing?

ANSWER: The Tanzania water industry is mainly affected by climate change variations. Changes that take place in the earth include rising global temperatures by 0.7 Celsius with a continued rise at an estimated rate of 0.2 degrees per decade leads into intensification of the hydrological cycle.

Countrywide, these changes affected the quantity and quality of water to meet human and environmental demands, hence are responsible for inefficiency in hydroelectric power generation, agricultural production and urban water supplies. Customers and consumers all over the country are complaining about power cut, water rationing and sometimes a complete lack of water in some areas.

Q: What are major causes and effects of climate change in the Tanzania water sector?

A: So far one of the outcomes of climate change in water cycle is floods which has caused major impacts on Tanzania water resources to include disruption of safe water supplies through infrastructure damage.

Others include overburdening wastewater system leading to contamination of water supplies and health risks such as increased incidences of diseases.

If the government and other stakeholders will not take serious on this issue, water flow is projected to become more seasonal and scarce at the national level.

Also scientists worldwide agreed that the root causes of climate change are direct and indirect human activities which are responsible for the alterations of atmosphere over time period. For example, since 1900s during the industrial revolution, the green house gases emissions have been rising due to increased burning of fuels. Significant increases in their levels are expected as developing countries to include Tanzania become more industrialised with increased population, hence increased energy consumption.

As much of the solar energy perceived by the earth is used to drive the hydrological cycle, the higher levels of solar energy trapped in the atmosphere leads to its intensification, resulting in changes in precipitation patterns, dryer dry seasons and wetter rainy seasons and subsequent heightened risks of more extreme and frequent floods and drought. It is obvious that, these changes result in increased floods and drought which have significant impacts on the availability, quantity and quality of freshwater.

Tanzania is under water stress as results from pressures such as power generation, irrigation, and human consumption. These pressures are significantly exacerbated by climate change, which resulted from reduced rainfall and increased temperatures. Currently, a third of Tanzania receives less than 800 mm of rain and is thus arid or semiarid, only one third has precipitation above 1,000 mm.

Furthermore, a number of researchers pointed out that there has been a change in the annual river runoff particularly the main rivers which form major water basins like Ruvu River (decrease of 10 percent), Pangani basin (decrease of 6 – 9 percent ) and Rufiji basin (increase of 5 – 11 percent). Even in most of our urban areas such as Moshi and Arusha which were not experiencing water rationing are now succumbed with the shortage of water.

The combined effects of current and future climate change are large enough to prevent Tanzania from achieving growth, development and poverty reduction targets simply for a reason that many of sectors are potential threats from the impact of climate change its water industry faces. These sectors include health, energy, infrastructure, agriculture and ecosystem services, and coastal zone - tourism [sea level rise].

So far its impacts has accounted for huge losses in sectors estimated to about at $1.7 million per day, posing threats to investors, the growing population and the environment. This is the major challenge the Tanzania water industry is facing.


Q. Do you think there is a way the water industry could address climate change ?

A: Yes, certainly there is a way. Addressing climate change to solve its impacts requires a serious adoption of a strategic involvement of actors countrywide. We are not too late. The good thing, water reforms initiated by the government in 1994 strategically emphasised a decentralisation approach blended with stakeholder’s involvement and adoption of marketing principles in the industry management.

The three important underlying principles namely Equity, for ensuring equal distribution and accessibility of water services, Efficiency, emphasising an application of commercial/marketing principles in order to sustain water supply and sanitation services, and Environment, emphasising conservation of water resources and the environment for long term, categorically calls for an active stakeholder involvement and not otherwise.

At some level Tanzania had tried hard to work out on these three principles however in a one hand-basis, that is financing is only from the government with the support from development partners. That is to say, the private sector and civil societies has not been fully involved in the management of water industry despite the directives by the National Water Policy of 2004.

It is obvious that, a monopolistic nature of the Tanzanian water industry supports the difficulties of mitigating the climate change impacts and hence a failure to reach the 100 percent of population served as well failure in meeting the requirements for hydropower production and food production. The reason is obvious, the inadequacy in financial resources and core competence such as skills, R&D, and technology. In this case one would need to think outside the box and embrace opportunities that appear.

The whole thing is what I refer to as leveraging the water sector operations where by the sector must exploit opportunities through an active involvement of actors.

It is unfortunate that the effect of climate changes has been recognised as problems and not as a business opportunity where results are gained. Thinking on the whole water supply chain for example, the chain takes a make-and-sell view of a business, as it consists of upstream” and “downstream” partners from a set of firms that supply the raw materials, components, parts, information, finances and expertise required to create a service, to marketing or distribution channels that look forward toward the customer whether being household consumers, industrial, hydropower generation unit etc.

The involvement of actors along the supply chain in a gainful way will enable a clear focus means of identifying barriers for climate change adaptation and provide strategic options in key areas of environmental conservation, water management and waste water management. Use of marketing concepts and models in the management of Tanzania water industry is therefore a way forward.

Q: You talked about marketing concepts as a way forward for mitigating climate change; do you think will it work?

A: The answer is yes, as I said earlier, the 1994 water sector reform was primarily focuses on commercialization. In this case for example, the supply chain as a marketing concept provides the basis for Tanzania water industry to set sound mechanism for climate change adaptation through a number of ways to include, Speeding up the adaptive capacity and technological advancement; Pooling of resources; Supporting the implementation of policy formulation, guidelines and regulations favouring involvement of actors such as PPP; Supporting the knowledge transfer and capacity building among actors; Supporting an adequate mechanism for effective consultation and consensus building; and Ensuring participation of stakeholders in the planning, design, operations and management decision making process.

Using a supply chain management, a number of collaboration interventions can be planned for actors to be involved in the climate change adaptation and service delivery improvement processes. For example, a new arrangement for private company to collaborate in Storage, Supply & Distribution activities of water supply either as a fully service provides or in a joint venture or strategic alliances with the Water Basins [WB’s] and Water Supply and Sanitation Authorities [UWSA’s].

A number of UWSA’s in the country currently have installed infrastructure capacity to meet the water demand however the actual water produced and supplied is far less to meet the demand. In some case, the problem is either one or both of these, inability to construct an additional water source, lack of storage facility and or inability to expand a distribution network.

Other collaboration interventions might be a private companies and UWSA’s embarking into reuse and recycling of wastewater to reduce pressure on freshwater resources. A good case here is drawn by Moshi Urban Water Supply and Sanitation Authority [MUWSA] collaborating with UNDP and Mabogini Environment Group, a project on the use of treated municipal effluent for paddy irrigation amounting to TShs 49 million was constructed. This project reduced pressure on a freshwater used before and enabled farmers to cultivate more paddy essentially in two seasons annually from the potential water which initially was regarded as a waste!

In a nutshell, a number of marketing based collaboration interventions can be designed by involving actors across the sector in areas also such as water sources protection, reduction of system water losses etc.

Collaboration strategy provides the basis for a sustainable solution to mitigate climate change effects in the Tanzania water industry. The involvement of actors in the water industry will lead to many advantages includes gain access to funding, needed technology and knowledge, reduced investment required, overcome trade barriers, and create value to customers.

Q: Are there any forms of collaboration interventions that can be adopted and what are the requirements?

A: There are three forms of collaboration interventions that can be applied to mitigate climate change effects in the Tanzania water industry. These are Partnering, mostly cooperative relationship in a project; Public Private Partnership [PPP], a partnership between the public and private sectors on a development project; and Strategic Alliances, in terms of a collaborative agreements, joint ventures, and joint ownership.

For collaborations interventions to be adopted in the water industry, there are basic requirement to be considered. These includes a change of attitudes from a monopoly to a fully active stakeholders driven approach, and most important is skills and behaviours of marketers professionals within water industry towards adopting and using key marketing concepts such as strategic audits, marketing decisions, stakeholder’s dialogue and others.

These requirements are crucial for the industry while responding to changing market trends as a result of climate change impacts.

Q: What is a precondition to act on stakeholder involvement as a way forward towards sustaining water management in Tanzania?

A: It is necessary for Water Basins [WB’s] and Urban Water Supply and Sanitation Authorities [UWSA’s] to identify suitable networking relationships. The emerging strategic marketing response is collaboration whereby the WBs and UWSA’s seek to forge relationships with a number of partners and therefore provide benefit to water customers.

Collaborative marketing is primarily based on the purpose of building an interactive platform among actors along the supply chain that is, from the producers and to the customers.

The WBs and UWSAs for purpose of market expansion and market penetration must forge strategic alliances, PPP and partnering with national, or regional governmental bodies; local actors such as agencies for water management, municipalities, water supply corporations, sewerage operators, public health policy makers, housing corporations, project developers, financing parties; private partners, such as construction companies and equipment suppliers; and the water systems users, namely domestic households in owned and rented houses, small and medium size enterprises, and the citizens living in the areas.

By leveraging the water industry operations, Tanzania will move ahead in ensuring its citizens have access to clean and safe water supply and sanitation services.

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