Besides traffic jams and power outages, one of biggest woes that Dar es Salaam residents have had to endure for years now is the never-ending shortage of water.
People have had to spare increasingly bigger budgets to buy enough of the life-sustaining liquid.
We have pointed out before and do so again that part of Dar es Salaam's water woes are to be found in the inefficient way it handles the scarce precious liquid.
Only two million of the nearly five million city residents get a modicum of fresh piped water, despite the huge infrastructure set up to ensure the supply. The cause is the run-down infrastructure which loses a significant amount of that liquid due to leakages along the way.
As a result many of Dar’s residents have turned to vendors, whose source of the precious liquid is not always safe, and buy a 20-litre bucket at between 300/- and 500/-. Some secure water from unsafe sources in their neighbourhoods.
It is thus of some comfort to learn that water supplies from Lower Ruvu plant are set to increase to 75 per cent from the current 55 per cent, hopefully meaning that more of it will flow to consumers instead of being lost on the way.
The assurance was given by the Deputy Minister for Water Gerson Lwenge who said that the expansion of Lower Ruvu has started and would include construction of the main water pipe from Bagamoyo to Dar es Salaam and start distributing water to areas yet to benefit from the project.
But as efforts continue to meet Dar es Salaam’s growing demand for water, it is also necessary to start discussing whether enough is being done to conserve the dwindling supplies.
Hinting at this year’s Maji Week theme of “Water and Food Security”, the deputy minister said experts from within and outside the country will exchange experiences on the development and management of water and sanitation, including educating people on how to harvest water from the rain in order to combat shortages.
Sadly not many Tanzanians have given due priority to the issue of water conservation.
But experts have predicted that the biggest crisis that is looming for humanity is not about the nuclear proliferation or even the economic meltdown, but the fight for what is quickly becoming its scarcest resource; water.
Reports say that water demand already exceeds supply in many parts of the world and as the world population continues to rise, so too does water demand.
The reports also acknowledge that awareness of the global importance of preserving water for ecosystem services has only recently emerged as, during the 20th century, more than half the world’s wetlands have been lost along with their valuable environmental services.
This situation should engage every community in the world in a more concerted action to reverse the actions that threaten the supply of the life sustaining liquid.
We thus urge Dar residents and Tanzanians in general to discuss actionable plans to not only conserve, but repair the damaged sources of water in the country.
This includes nurturing damaged water sources, massive afforestation effort and other water conservation measures.