TANZANIA is doing well in economy in Africa but needs to improve water resource management, according to the latest World Bank report.
The World Bank’s Tanzania Economic Update titled `Managing Water Wisely,’ Tanzania is already water stressed as water resources have remained the same while the population has doubled and the size of the economy has more than tripled over the last 25 years.
Presenting the report, a World Bank expert, William Rex said Tanzania water resources recently dropped below 1,700 cubic meters per capita meaning that the country has joined the ranks of the world’s water stressed countries.
“This is still well in excess of the 1,000 cubic metres per person that is internationally considered to be threshold for absolute scarcity, but it is below the 1,700 cubic metres level that the United Nations considers countries to be water stressed,” he said.
Over the last quarter century, Tanzania renewable per capita fresh water resources have declined from more than 3,000 cubic metres to around 1,600 in 2014 and the figure will continue to decline, reaching around 1,400 by 2025, he said.
According to him while that average level of water stress is significant, real-world water stress is significantly higher during dry seasons and drier parts of the country. Most rain falls in two to three months of the year and after accounting for environmental flow requirements, national demand in Tanzania is already 150 per cent of accessible water during dry periods.
He said water stress also differ geographically since water and development is also unevenly distributed across Tanzania’s nine river basins. He said water requirement for different economic sectors vary , with agriculture currently using the vast majority of Tanzania’s utilized water resources.
Agriculture is highly de pendent on water resources and is the primary user, accounting for 89 per cent of the total water use in Tanzania against a global average of 70 per cent. Domestic consumption of water resources is around 10 per cent and about one per cent for water use is for industry, he said.
“A key water resource management challenge for Tanzania is reducing the large quantity of water consumed by agriculture to ensure water is available to meet development goals on industrialization, energy production and water supply,” he said.
Commenting, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Water and Irrigation, Prof Kitila Mkumbo said although Tanzania has not reached the level of absolute scarcity, the risk for water stress is significant and calls for deliberate measures to improve water resource management.
“It is not yet a very big problem as we have not reached absolute scarcity levels, but its risks are quite significant. We are focused to strengthen water management institutions to improve management of the resource,” he said.
He said the measures include coordination of institutions dealing with water management for coordinated efforts on water resource management. The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Southern Agricultural Corridor of Tanzania (SAGCOT), Geoffrey Kirenga said enforcement of regulations governing water use and management was vital to improve management of water.
“We need to put up a system for enforcement of regulations for water management,” he said in his contribution to the debate. A representative for Tanzania Private Sector Foundation (TPSF), Salum Shamte said Tanzania needs modern irrigation facilities were needed to boost productivity in agriculture.
“It is high time we pooled resources to put up modern irrigation facilities. Currently our investment into modern infrastructure facilities is very low,” he said.