A look at the contextual issues in water, sanitation and hygiene in Tanzania

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Policy Forum was this week invited to a stakeholders meeting to validate a report which looks at the Tanzania Water, Sanitation and Hygiene sector (WASH) strengths and gaps for WaterAid Tanzania (WAT) to reflect on as they plan their new strategy. The meeting also aimed to offer an opportunity to gain insights on stakeholders’ plans with respect to key areas highlighted in the report and to solicit feedback and suggestions from partners on where they think WAT can add most value in the sector in the next five years.

The following are the key issues observed at the event:

1. Institutions, policies and stakeholders: There is more money, more players, more programmes and better organisation in the WASH sector now than in the past but there is lack of integration of sanitation and hygiene in national water policies hindering prioritization of sanitation and hygiene implementation across all levels, with much effect at village levels. It was also noted that budgeting tends to be input rather than output based and WASH funding is influenced heavily by short term political considerations. WASH stakeholders are numerous but there is little strategic dialogue among all key players on gaps, bottlenecks and impediments to WASH delivery.

2. WASH Sector performance, planning and sustainability: Tanzania will not meet either the water or sanitation MDG targets. The situation is worse in rural than urban areas and despite increased investments in water sector, Tanzania is not doing well in WASH, as more people (absolute numbers) still lack basic WASH services. Funding for water supply has not kept pace with population growth even though emphasis of investments is inclined towards water supply as opposed to sanitation.

3. WASH social context: Vulnerability is mainly driven by disability, exclusion and climate change.  Up to 13.2% of Tanzanians have one form of disability or the other. WASH is equally important to the children and the elderly who face different sets of risks which require targeted responses. Their periods of life are identified as particularly important: for example, the first 1,000 days of a child’s life or the transition from home to school, or from work to retirement all need elevated levels of water supply and sanitation.

4. Wash and climate change: Climate determines the economy of Tanzania and the livelihoods of people and WASH in particular are dependent on the climate.  Around 60% of the Tanzanian GDP is associated with climate sensitive activities, including agriculture, forestry, energy and tourism. Climate variability is already a major economic burden for Tanzania

WaterAid is a Policy Forum member organisation and the two have worked together in budget analysis and advocacy as well as governance reviews.

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