June 06, 2012
The Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) has officially announced its support for a Sanitation and Hygiene programme investing US$ 5,000,000 from its Global Sanitation Fund (GSF) to help more communities in Tanzania increase access to and attain improved sanitation.
Known as the Usafi wa Mazingira Tanzani (UMATA) in Kiswahili, the programme announced by WSSCC is part of the country’s broader National Sanitation Programme, also unveiled by the Government at the national World Environment Day celebrations.
The GSF funded programme was announced at a high profile event hosted by President of the United Republic Of Tanzania, Dr. Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete in the presence of senior dignitaries, decision makers and civil society representatives, in the central area of Dodoma – where the programme will commence.
Unlike in neighbouring countries, basic sanitation coverage in Tanzania is relatively good, as many people have latrines. However many latrines are either unused or unhygienic, as highlighted by a recent baseline district data which revealed that only 28 % of the rural population have access to improved sanitation and less than 25% of the total population is estimated to have a designated place for hand-washing with soap.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 70% of diseases in Tanzania are water related and it is estimated that these cost Tanzania close to US$ 600 million annually. As such the case for proper sanitation and hygiene as an effective preventative intervention is strong and has gained political traction recently.
Enshrined within the country’s development Vision 2025, the Government has increasingly recognized the hampering effects of poor sanitation and hygiene on its wider development efforts – such as eradication of poverty and economic advancement.
It therefore pledged to provide improved sanitation to 95% of its population by 2025. As part of the solution, the GSF-funded programme is supporting the Government in its landmark sanitation initiative “Go to Zero”. “The tide is really turning in favour of sanitation and hygiene,” said Mark Willis, Programme Manager for WSSCC’s Global Sanitation Fund. “The funds we are providing will mean that another 0.8 million Tanzanians will have better sanitation by 2015.”
The five-year UMATA programme worth US$ 5,000,000 aims to increase access and use of improved sanitation facilities and seeks to positively change behaviours related to sanitation and hygiene on a wide scale for communities. With an initial focus on three districts namely Bahi, Chamwino and Kongwa, the programme builds upon the National Sanitation Programme and existing country strategies.
It also aims to instigate significant change through strengthening existing national knowledge, skills and systems and the development of a National Information Education and Communications (IEC) strategy.
At a practical level, a pool of well-trained national facilitators will be deployed across the country to roll out sanitation and hygiene initiatives in Tanzania. The GSF-funded UMATA programme will contribute to poverty reduction through reducing healthcare expenses, increasing productivity, and improving attendance in schools amongst other benefits.