A TEAM of experts who gathered in Morogoro town recently to review Tanzania’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) examined measures to be undertaken in the water sector that would help communities adapt to the impacts of climate change.
Globally, climate change has severely affected water resources as evidenced by degraded water sources, reduced water quantities, deteriorating flows from water sources and depleted amounts of water in groundwater aquifers. The impacts have inflicted economic and social shocks among Tanzanians as well as arrested some environmental functions. As characteristic with climate change impacts, some parts of the country have at times experienced unusually heavy rains that have resulted in flash floods which in turn have washed away crops, livestock, buildings and transport infrastructure. Both too little water and too much water have negative impacts on humanity.
Malfunctioning water systems often lead to poor sanitation as water may be contaminated, leading to outbreaks of dysentery, typhoid, diarrhoea, cholera and other water-borne disease. According to WaterAid, for hundreds of millions of the world’s poor people, climate change is putting already stretched water resources and services under growing threat. A reliable clean water supply and decent sanitation systems could be the difference between coping and not coping with the effects of climate change.
This calls for specific strategies to deal with water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and they must be reflected in the country’s NDCs. Already, Tanzania has taken measures in addressing WASH issues by establishing policies such as the National Adaptation Plan (NAP, 2015) and the Climate Change Strategy of2012 which is currently under review as well as the Health National Adaptation Plan. The Current Draft Nationally Determined Contributions document falls short of clearly indicating actions to address WASH. Its presence remains obscure.
The Tanzania Forum on Climate Change (FORUMCC), among others, noticed this gap and teamed up with the Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) to highlight the importance of WASH in the NDCs well before the review process was planned.
The two institutionsconducted a study, “Catalysing the Inclusion of WASH in the NDCs Review Process in Tanzania,” after which they organized a workshop to present their findings. The workshop aimed to, among other things, discuss, exchange information, and share experience based on the study findings. It also aimed at empowering participants to access potential data and inputs that would be used to inform the inclusion of WASH in NDCs review process in Tanzania. The workshop brought together various Climate Change and WASH stakeholders representing the government, CSOs, development partners and private sector. The youth, research and academia groups were also represented.
Presenting initial findings of the study, Mr. Msololo Onditi who had been consulted to undertake the study informed the participants that “In spite of including water, health and waste management sectors as areas of GHG emission reduction, Tanzania NDCs had not explicitly explained how WASH issues will be addressed during the implementation,” says Mr. Msololo Onditi.
According to the findings, the NDCs document hasn’t provided examples of any climate change technologies to be applied in management of landfills or improving sanitation. There is also scant information on the source of energy and facilities to be used for incineration of waste generated from Health Center Facilities (CFs).
“Information is also lacking on management of similar waste produced by commercial activities despite the fact that incineration of industrial waste accounts for the emission of various greenhouse gas components,” explains Onditi.
The study findings also indicate that there is no explicit articulation of management of liquid waste produced in the WASH processes. Only solid waste is mentioned and in a general way.
Abdallah Henku, a Climate Change and Natural Resources expert notes that Tanzania NDCs document prioritizes water resources management and omits the water supply aspect which is important not only because consumers access the resources for different uses including sanitation and hygiene but also because they eventually produce liquid waste. “Both water supply and sanitation are affected by climate change. It is important therefore to include WASH in the NDCs so that the whole chain of WASH benefits the end users. Reliable and safe water access and improved sanitation must be given due concern,” explains Henku.
Euster Kibona, FORUMCC Board Chairperson and an expert climate change and natural resources issues underscoresparticipation of local communities in developing climate change response plans.“This is to provide opportunity to communities to learn about sanitation and hygiene and put into practice what they have learned in order to improve their health,” she says, adding that lack of participation among members of communitiesleaves them with limited knowledge about climate change and WASH in general and they thus become move vulnerable to impacts of climate change.
“Since sanitation and hygiene matters are part and parcel of human settlements, it is important that town planners become aware of climate change and incorporate the various aspects of WASH in their plans,” she notes.
According to the World Health OrganisationWASH is not only a prerequisite to health, but contributes to livelihoods and helps to create resilient communities living in healthy environments.
“Drinking unsafe water impairs health through illnesses such as diarrhoea, and untreated excreta contaminates groundwaters and surface waters used for drinking-water, irrigation, bathing and household purposes. Chemical contamination of water continues to pose a health burden,” says the UN Agency in one of its publications.
Evidence suggests that improving service levels towards safely managed drinking-water or sanitation such as regulated piped water or connections to sewers with wastewater treatment can dramatically improve health by reducing deaths arising from diarrhoeaand related disease deaths.
“Today, 2.2 billion people lack access to safely managed drinking water services and 4.2 billion people lack safely managed sanitation services. Unsafe hygiene practices are widespread, compounding the effects on people’s health,” says another UN Agency, UN Water.
Thus during the review, participants added some inputs in the Draft NDCs document in order to reflect various issues of WASH. One addition was directed to implementation of NCDs that proposed the enhancement of conservation of water sources in both urban and rural communities to ensure not only adequate flows but also clean and safe supplies. The group also proposedscaling up public awareness raising and educational campaigns on sanitation as well and improving water supply infrastructure to ensure the provision of clean and safe water. Such campaigns are intended to encourage people to take actions like washing hand, using toilets and keeping them clean as wells boiling drinking water for drinking, particularly in the rural areas where very often water is not treated.
Another addition was the construction of sewerage systems in urban areas that can withstand the impacts of climate change. This would control spillage of liquid waste from sewers and storm-drains and as such reduce outbreak of water-borne diseases.
“The fact that the reviewed Draft NDCs now addresses WASH in its entirety makes the document a concrete presentation of Tanzania’s commitment to undertakeadaptation and mitigation contributions with the aim of building climate resilient communities, says Onditi.