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Kigoma Region is one of the areas blessed with many water sources including rivers, dams, springs, and Lake Tanganyika, however; despite the availability of these resources, communities in the region are suffering from a lack of access to clean water for domestic use and thus living life-threatening health and economic risk.

Kigoma municipality and Kibondo district is the most where the water supply has deteriorated to the point of endangering the lives of people along with rising service prices, despite the presence of billions worth of government and world bank funded water projects

Kasimbu residents in Kigoma Municipal find it difficult to access safe water, many households in Busomelo Street rely on underground water located 12 meters from the toilet due to the increase in population around water areas located in the Kasenga suburb.

In almost every corner of the household, there is a toilet as well as, around the well women wash their clothes at the same time water vendors fetch for selling within and outside Kasimbu ward.

Athumani Tito resident from Busomelo street said there is a water problem in their living area, people use water from wells located in the middle of people’s cities, a few meters from the toilets, the wells are either covered or treated and asks the government and KUWASA to give them a permanent solution of clean and safe water to avoid outbreaks of diseases.

“We are using water that is not safe at all, wells that we use are locally placed without any mitigation risks to our health, to get safe drinking water, women in this area are forced to buy water or walk about 30 kilometers to fetch water in Buzebazeba.  Imagine, we buy 1 galloon of 2oltr for 1000 Tanzania shilling if you have huge family, you can spend 7000-8000sh per week only for drinking water, it is better to pay water bills to KUWASA than costs like this” Lamented Tito.

Mariam Hamisi said, they need more safe and clean water urgently for typhoid and diarrhea pose a huge threat to them and it is important that the government does something to the people like building on the wells or put water infrastructure to save the lives of the locals especially children.

In that case, also Runigangwa Yahya noted that the quality of water in the wells is influenced by many natural and human factors, including people who wash clothes a few meters (5m) from the water body which endangers the life of Busomelo, the government should save them before the eruption of the endemic diseases like cholera.

Ramadhan Juma, a water vendor from Kasimbu ward said they sell water for domestic and drinking use within Kasimbu and Kagera wards, but sometimes the water is not proper for drinking but people tend to use it because they lack an alternative.

“In a trip, we carry 4-5 gallons on a bicycle, we always charge a gallon for 200-500sh in a trip, we charge per distance, the challenge we get is sometimes we are supposed to walk a far distance for selling water and yet same of women cannot pay our money they tell us you will come tomorrow and yet they can’t pay thinking that we are joking doing such business,” said Juma.

Due to water instability and lack of water investment in Kasimbu ward, Busomelo Street chairperson Hassan Hassanaly said, the street has a population of 800-1000, they all depend on dug spring water located at Kasenga area with exceptional of 3 sub street which has water taps coming out once per 0ne to three weeks.

“We had STENKON water project of building water tanks in Kasimbu ward which started 2007 and managed to install 2 tanks, the project did not bear good result until in 2020 when we started installing water into the tank, and in August 2021 we succeeded and water started coming out for people’s use, the only challenge we are facing is, after the water is installed in the tanks it exists for two days and will not be installed until two to three weeks ahead” Said Hassanaly.

 He also added that currently, the water tanks are below the total volume of water required for the people living inward.

He insisted that they have several times asked KUWASA over the matter but they always claim to have challenges in their water supply infrastructure which led to the distribution of water from place to place.

The chairperson further clarified that due to lack of water investment from the government, to get drinking water, some women decide to go and fetch water from Kibwe wells more than 20 km from living areas where they face the challenges of being threatened for rape by some immoral gardeners around the water areas

“The worse period is during the dry season where wells dry up and people tend to fetch dust water and during the rainy season where water fills the wells and well becomes unused and untreated, during this period water from wells mix up with water from the toilet and cause suffering to people for when water is not clean can lead to water-borne diseases,” said Hassanaly

In studies conducted by the Lake Tanganyika Basin Authorities reveal that the construction of development projects and settlement houses without their involvement as the authorities can lead to an environmental impact on the areas.

Odemba Kornel Head of the Environmental and Protection Department at Lake Tanganyika Basin said it is advised before starting and developing projects or settlements to seek advice from the authority to avoid environmental hazards that can cause further harm to human beings.

“There are projects built without our concern, they are now damaged, they were flooded and no longer existing, we regret that they did not use water statistics in designing their projects which led to damages, water data helps projects to be built effectively, for example, Kasanga and Mgambo ports sunk because they did not use water data and Kalema port is doing well because they used the water data in their construction,” explained Kornel.

He insisted that, as an authority, they know the areas with water and should not be placed on projects or settlements, they know when and where there was a high-water level and where, and when the water reduced, and where the ultimate water level is, this will help avoid losses of property and other infrastructure.

“Even road constructors should seek for our advice as we use hydrological data to determine the water level passing through a certain bridge, failure to do so, and bridges are built against the bulk of the water will lead to a bridge collapse and cause losses to the government and other investors.

On his side, Gaudence Ndolo, Water Resource Engineer at Lake Tanganyika Basin said it is against the law for a citizen to drill their own wells without permission from the authority, and there must be a distance of 300m from one well and another otherwise the permit holder will sue who dug a well by stealing water.

He said activities that do not require a permit include domestic use of water, digging a well less than 15 meters, and storing tanks that harvest rain water which carries less than 20,000 while activities that require permits include draining water for irrigation, making fish ponds, diverting the river, digging a deep well above 15m and electricity water usage.

 “A permit to drill a well under 15 meters per year costs 80,000 Tanzania shillings, for economic use it costs 80,000 thousand permits and a fee of 300,000sh/ per year, for lodgers, hotels, and small size fish pond permit cost 200,000sh/ while fees are paid based on expenditure per year,” said Ndolo.

He said among the Basin activities are to ensure the environment and water sources are well protected and must not be interfered with human activities a situation that led to water depletion in rivers or drying up.

Similarly in agricultural projects, environmental law refuses to divert all water from major sources for aquatic organisms’ existence.

writer: Adela Madyane

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