Tanzania: Almost half water supply is wasted through leaks

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Gasirigwa Sengiyumva
June 10, 2011

Given its current economic situation, Tanzania cannot afford to spend its constrained resources on producing water that is allowed to go to waste.

Yet much water is wasted, stakeholders have argued. Complaining to the writer, on various occasions, residents of Ubungo expressed their concern over wastage of water due to leakage of pipes in the area.

“You see, we get water on ration basis here, and each time it flows in most cases it doesn’t reach where it is supposed to go.

A leaking water pipe

All the pipes along this street are either punctured or cut. Much of the water just flows uncontrollably; making the area look like it has just rained.

I really feel bad about this, considering that people spend money that they could otherwise use on other purposes to purchase gallons of water from vendors,” laments a stakeholder who wished to be referred to as Mangi, a resident of Rombo street in Ubungo.

He added that the water they buy from vendors is sometimes not safe since it is fetched from wells and it is saline.

“Whenever construction activities are carried out (road rehabilitation), these caterpillars sever all our pipes, and it is even worse if the road levelling is taking place at the same time when water is flowing.

The roads turn muddy and pose a problem to pedestrians,” argued Mama Leyla, a fruit vendor in Kimara Kona. She said each time it happens, it takes time for authorities to solve the problem and sometimes they don’t repair the pipes at all.

“That is why it is always easy to know when water has been distributed to our area, since it will be flowing all over,” she added.

When approached for comment, an official from the Dar es Salaam Water and Sewerage Corporation (DAWASCO) said once they get the information on leaks, they work on the news and take action to rectify the problem, though they agreed that it might take a bit longer, sometimes due to several challenges, such as procurement procedures.

DAWASCO is a sole provider of water supply and sewerage Services in Dar es Salaam city and parts of Coast region.

The Corporation is responsible for the management, operation, and maintenance of water supply and waste water disposal services.

“Some of these people contribute to this problem; they cut pipes especially when they are doing illegal connections.

It is true that other pipes are worn out due to road maintenance activities, and those pipes laid along the roads are the ones mostly affected,” said Ms Theresia Mlengu from the Public Relations department.

She said because of these problems, not only does the company lose income due to unpaid bills because many people get water for free from illegal connections, but the organisation also suffers loss from leaking pipes.

“We lose 45 per cent of water through leaks, but I’m glad to tell you that we have a project called ‘non-revenue water’, which is supposed to identify all places where water is wasted through leaks and suggest possible solutions. Believe me, we are working on it,” Ms Mlengu informed. She said the community has a role to play in this matter.

“Once you see a leak, try to take care of it first by either using rubber or anything suitable before you call us.

This way it will help reduce the amount of water wasted,” she appealed. Stakeholders argue that water education programmes that focus on formal education to educate children, youth and the community in general on the principles of management, protection and conservation should be put in place.

This will enable them to become better water managers of tomorrow. The average level of unaccounted for water is about 50 per cent in urban areas, and as much as 70 per cent of the water used for irrigation is lost and not used by plants, according to UN Water/Africa.

The report says these high levels of water wastage may be attributed to the existence of perverse incentives or to the use of inefficient technologies.

In case of water supply, a major contributory factor is the neglected maintenance of installed equipment.

The report adds that in many African countries, limited resources borrowed for water supply goes to rehabilitating installed technologies instead of expanding services.

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