A climate change adaptation project in the East Usambaras is showing how to provide water to rural areas using simple and cheap small water projects.
People in the East Usambaras have their own way of harnessing water from small springs or rivulets where they are blessed with a wealth of springs and rivulets. They simply split a piece of bamboo to collect water from the source.
Such sources have served people for years. Unfortunately, they could not reduce the distances used by villagers, especially women in fetching water nor, of course, could they cushion themselves from dangers of pollution.
Besides using the water for drinking, such sources are also used as bathing points, washing clothes whereby endangering the communities’ health.
A climate change adaptation project being implemented in the East Usambaras, in Muheza District, however, has come up with a cheap solution - using local water sources where villagers were using simple bamboo pipes to collect water at one source for use by villagers.
The project, named ‘Integrated Approaches for Climate Change Adaptation in East Usambaras,’ has improved the local technology by constructing a simple intake above where the locals have been outing their bamboo, and connecting pipes to water points in the village.
Gasper Gratian, the project manager says that the project has managed to build a total of four water intakes, four collection points of water at the water sources point, three water collection tanks, one break pressure and 31 water drawing points. A total of 553 community members are accessing tap water, he said.
The water program is being implemented by Engineering for Human Development, a Spanish NGO that has been supporting water and sanitation interventions using a human rights-based approach, particularly in rural areas (ONGAWA).
ONGAWA is a partner in the implementation of the climate adaptation project. The lead partner is the Tanzania Forest Conservation Group (TFCG) while others are Muheza District Council as part of the European Union funded Global Climate Change Alliance Plus (GCCA+) Tanzania project.
GCCA is a European Union flagship initiative helping the world’s most vulnerable countries to address climate change.
The project further identified 27 potential spring water sources from the completed hydro-geological and technical solution studies, whereby 13 sources were selected for piloting the supply of safe and clean water to 3,250 inhabitants as per the National Water Policy 2002 (NAWAPO2002).
The main objective of NAWAPO 2002 is to develop a comprehensive framework for sustainable development and management of the country's water resources.
Martin Charles, the chairman of the Water Users Committee of Kizerui, one of the villages benefiting from the project at the far end of the East Usambara Mountain, said that the water projects have brought a lot of harmony not only to villagers at large but have had a big impact among families.
“Many here fear to admit it but men feel more at ease now when their wives go fetch water, because it is not far from homes,” said Charles.
The Kizerui Village Executive Officer (VEO), Anderson Kingazi admits that he used to settle marriage rows repeatedly. “Quite a lot of men were suspicious when their wives took a long time at the village water source, far from their home,” said Kingazi.
Another villager who did not divulge his name said one never knows what would happen when one’s wife goes to a water hole and stays there for a long time.
The villagers have already set strategies for sustaining the water projects, including forming a Water Users Committees, opening village water accounts and setting regulations that include a Sh. 2,000 fee that every household is required to pay per month.
The regulations also include management of water points and protection of water sources.
The committee secretary, Raphael Seguni said that those who want to use water for irrigation have to pay and those who divert water without permission are fined Sh 60,000.
A woman who identified herself as Rhoda Peter Nkinda of Kizerui said that drawing from the village water hole was outrageous.
“You set your buckets in the morning but manage to get water in the evening. You are never sure what your husband might say at home because of the time taken to get home,” said Nkinda whose house is just a stone throw away from the drawing point (DP). She is not worried again because she can draw water even after coming from the farm.
Speaking generally on sustaining the water projects, the ONGAWA Coordinator, Gasper Gratian said that the project trained 20 village artisans on operation and maintenance (O&M) practices and helping with the construction of water systems.
He further said that three river committees were established for managing and controlling conflicts in sub-catchments and are effectively operating. Initially it was planned to establish two river committees but three committees were established, pointed to as 150 per cent achievement.
Also a total of 480 water friendly trees were planted in 15 water sources as a way of improving water catchment sources.
The project also undertook participatory assessment and recognition visits of water recharge areas and polluted water points with water users’ associations (WUAs) and river committee members.
A total of 59 water sources were assessed in 13 village and findings were presented to each village government for sharing and uptake.
During this assessment activities being conducted near to water catchments were observed, such as farming and sand mining, where community members involved were gathered and trained to comprehend how their activities were affecting water resources.
A total of 235 community members were identified conducting economic activities near water catchments in all eight villages.
Gasper also said that a conflict baseline study to identify existing conflicts in sub -catchments linked to water and land management in all 13 villages was successfully conducted.
After assessment, he said, no conflicts were identified because the water from the villages is not used for irrigation and therefore no conflicts over water users were identified.
A total of 16 registers were distributed to monitor destructive activities in the water catchment zones, with one register per village and one register per river committee.