Water: Minister Kamwele had little reason for smug satisfaction

23Dec 2017
The Guardian
Water: Minister Kamwele had little reason for smug satisfaction

A BIZZARE formulation has come up on the current work of the Ministry of Water and Irrigation in sanitation, especially with the minister, Engineer Issac Kamwele, setting out an optimistic view of what they are doing, more or less wishing to become a model for the sub-region,

He said that the government has vowed to make Tanzania a model nation in the African continent in promotion of peace and tranquility through improved water and sanitation services to its citizens.

He was making a tour of Ilemela ward in Mwanza city, where he inspected what was described as a simplified sewerage system project, said to be the first of its kind nationally and globally, started in the region and set to be expanded countrywide.

The minister had plenty of things to be happy about activities of the ministry in the area, handing over 21 school and public toilets plus five other toilets built in open spaces; three cars and six motorcycles were also handed over to water authorities in Magu, Misungwi and Busega districts, with a car and two bikes for each district. 

All this is part of the second phase of the Lake Victoria Water and Sanitation Programme, also earmarking duplicating the toilet building exercise in 11 primary schools in Nyamagana district as well as 10 schools in Ilemela municipality.

About 40 primary schools and six open spaces will have the facilities being built in the programme, with this effort being part of environmental protection of the lake and communities.

The fact that the minister has been elected President of African Water Ministries Association helps to explain why Tanzania scored a first in having started to implement a simplified sewerage system project, and conversely, having embarked on that exercise virtually earmarked the minister for the top honors.

It boils down to enthusiasm of other stakeholders especially among development partners, especially as two sets of stakeholders are involved, first in relation to sanitation and then in the more complicated issue of the sort of environmental safeguards to guard the lake from pollution.

Building latrines helps to end many water borne diseases, but it is uncertain if no contamination of underground water sources takes place in the area.

The key development partners involved in the project are the European Investment Bank and the French Development Agency, where the donors provided Sh105bn each and the government furnished Sh34bn for the total costs of the project.

This has airs of a model project only because Tanzania is one of few countries around the world (that is Africa south of the Sahara) which still need foreign financing to build toilets in its primary schools and open spaces of municipalities, other countries having long since weaned from that kind of development assistance.

Instead of praising the country as set to become a model for that reason, that is, the way it is putting up excellent water or sanitation facilities, the minister should have vowed 'never again.'

Yet the minister would have been hard put to attempt that remark, that we should not in the future start to seek foreign aid to build toilets, as the very design of the project shows why such aid shall continue to be needed, or needs to be rolled out in the breadth of the country with more donor funds.

In the total cost of the project, the government's Sh34bn could have been used for administrative purposes while the bilateral agency and the multilateral bank could have put up capital going into banks, and statutory access be put up for such services to be constructed on a revolving fund basis.

That way the cash would form a constant capital base helpful for other areas, widening sources of revenues - but we reject that, seek toilet project aid.

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