Deputy Minister for Water Honorable Jumaa Awesso with other government officials in Mandela area at Korogwe district while inspecting the project area. Photo by Oscer Assenga. 

The Ministry of Water has announced 500 million USD for improving rural Tanzanians’ access to safe water. The project aims to benefit 600,000 citizens in Korogwe, Muheza, Handeni, and Pangani who currently use unsafe water from Pangani River.

The announcement comes just weeks after Media for Community Empowerment (MeCE), a non-governmental organisation dedicated to amplifying citizens’ voices and improving government accountability through local radio and other media, aired the concerns of villagers in Mswaha on Korogwe-Tanga's Voice of Africa Radio and Morogoro’s Planet FM. 

Speaking to journalists on 27 September in Mandela, Korogwe district, Tanzania’s Deputy Minister of Water and Irrigation the Honourable Jumaa Aweso said: 

“The government realises the challenges of accessing water in rural areas, especially in the districts of Korogwe, Muheza, Handeni and Pangani. We have a fund from the Indian government worth 500 million USD and we are allocating this fund to these four districts. It is my hope that when this project is done, many villagers will benefit from the availability of water. People from Mswaha village, we heard your cries and the government is now taking action”

Media for Community Empowerment broadcast Mswahavillagers’ complaints four times between 2-19 September as part of their flagship program Sauti Yangu (My Voice), which provides a platform for Tanzanians to explain how the water crisis affects their community and call for government action. 

MeCE journalists interviewed villagers who walk up to 5km to collect water that is often dirty, dangerous and disease-ridden. In some cases villagers are left with little choice but to pay for overpriced water from private providers as government water supplies are often unavailable or inaccessible.

The Chairperson of Mswaha village, Korogwe district, Mr. Ibrahim Musa said:

“We have depended on water from Pagani River for so long. It affects us so much - we get diseases such as diarrhoea, and typhoid. When you hear cholera has erupted in Korogwe, people tell you it has been caused by using water from Pangani River. Another challenge in collecting water from Pagani River is the presence of crocodiles. In 2016, an old man’s leg was eaten by a crocodile when he was fetching water. Now he is walking on one leg. In 2017, a woman was eaten by a crocodile. She was lost. We later came to find her palm. In 2017, in our neighbour’s village Mwenga, a young man was also eaten by a crocodile.”

According to WHO/UNICEF, only 57% of Tanzania’s 57 million population have access to basic water services, while only 25% have access to safely managed sanitation. In rural communities, water shortages are acute. 

Media for Community Empowerment’s director Sharifa Bakari Nyanga said:

“We believe that Sauti Yangu has the power to raise citizens’ concerns and we are pleased the government has listened to the people of Mswaha. This pledge shows admirable commitment to addressing the country’s water crisis. We hope this is the start of a concerted effort to fulfil every Tanzanian’s human right to safe water and sanitation. We look forward to broadcasting radio programmes from other districts to further amplify citizens’ voices.”