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World Water Day, grim reminder of water shortage

‘’I do not think it is right to celebrate World Water Day while we are still facing water shortage in our country,” says a resident of Kimara, Dar es Salaam, called Ally Mustapha. “People are still facing a severe shortage of water. In Kimara the problem is chronic.” On account of that, Mustapha adds that it is an irony to celebrate the World’s Water Day because Tanzanians is still plagued by shortage of clean and safe water.

But Judith Shoo, another Dar resident, supportive of the momentous day, differs with Mustapha and says it  is important to commemorate the day because it makes water stakeholders remember the need to supply clean and safe water to the people. "The day reminds water stakeholders to remember their duty of  providing safe water to the people,” Ms Shoo says. 

The fact that over two thirds of our planet earth is covered by water and our body is mostly made up of it, underscores its importance.  An international organization, WaterAid called for people all over the world to have safe drinking water on the day. However, a WaterAid report shows that 783 million people still live without this essential service over one in ten across the globe.

According to the WaterAid country representative in Tanzania, Mr Paul Obura, ensuring that everyone on the planet has clean water to drink would be a great achievement.  “Ensuring that everyone on the planet has clean water to drink would rank as one of the great achievements of humankind. Delivering upon this human right would also improve public health and drive economic development.

“Meeting the Millennium Development Goal on water by providing access to 2 billion more people in the last twenty years shows what can be achieved. However, we must not lose sight of the 783 million people, who still have no choice but to drink unsafe water. “Everyone on the planet has a right to safe water to drink and this could be achieved with the right political will within our lifetime - let’s not settle for anything less than 100 pe cent,” he said.

The report released recently by WaterAid shows that on April 20, this year, the Sanitation and Water for All partnership will bring together Government ministers from around the world and WaterAid will be calling on them to act with urgency to end the water and sanitation crisis.

The report also revealed that diarhoea caused by unsafe water and sanitation is the biggest killer of children in Sub-Saharan Africa and the second biggest killer of children worldwide - taking more young lives than HIV/AIDs, malaria and measles combined. The report further revealed that sanitation remains the most off track of the Millennium Development Goals. Currently, 2.5 billion people live without access to sanitation, over 1 in 3 of the world's population. 

On current rates of progress, it will take almost 70 years in South Asia and over 250 years for Sub-Saharan Africa to reach universal access to sanitation. Around the globe, 300,000 people are taking part in the World Walks for Water and Sanitation to call on governments to bring about universal access for these services and put an end to the water and sanitation crisis.  

The importance of water made WaterAid earlier this year to launch their five-year water strategy in the country is a welcome move. At the ceremony, the guest of honour, Deputy Minister for Education and Vocational Training Mr Philip Mulugo said, the government all by itself cannot provide water to the whole country.

However, with the cooperation of private institutions and NGOs, the target of water to reach the whole country will be reached. "Despite efforts to combat malaria, the government has in addition a target to provide clean water to its people to fight against diseases caused by unclean water, for example cholera,’’ said Mulugo. By Mulugo’s account, the government took a step to fight against malaria but it is also going to fight against diseases caused by dirty water by providing clean water to the people.  

The Director of International Programmes WaterAid, Mr Girish Menon said WaterAid will continue to help people to reach the target of providing clean water whether in villages or in towns. "We are going to help Tanzanians to have clean water especially in schools because the most students affected are girls,’’ said Menon. Established in 1981, WaterAid focuses exclusively on provision of safe domestic water, sanitation and hygiene education to many countries.

It works in partnership with the Central Government and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and communities in Tabora, Dar es Salaam, Singida and Manyara. The main mission of WaterAid is to transform lives by improving access to safe water, hygiene and sanitation in the world’s poorest communities.

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Mwandishi: JOYCE KABIGI

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