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Enabling Local Management in Tanzania to Improve Water Supply

Tetra Tech’s Leif Kindberg and Yussuf Kajenje collaboratively wrote this piece as part of the team supporting the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Water Resources Integration Development Initiative (WARIDI).

This article was originally published on GlobalWaters.

About 60 percent of Tanzanians have access to an improved water source. The population lacking this access is located in small towns and rural communities where broken infrastructure, unmetered water points, and water rationing is commonplace.

The USAID WARIDI is working with local government authorities and grantees in the Njombe District to improve governance of water systems, financial management, and operations and maintenance. Under the leadership of the Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency (RUWASA), the Wanginyi community is expanding water access and taking advantage of internal and external financing to fund maintenance and extension of water services to reach more people.

Improved management has unlocked competitive sources of public and private funding, including payments by result funds from the Ministry of Water, providing local government authorities with financial incentive to maintain and expand rural water supply infrastructure. “Coupled with private sources of financing that can be backed through local banks, improvements in service delivery and revenue collection are supporting community water supply organizations to play a major role in expanding service to the 27 million Tanzanians who need access to clean water,” said WARIDI Project Director, Bigambo Nandiga.

Achieving Locally Sustained Results That Make a Big Difference

Through its Community Owned Water Supply Organization (COWSO), the responsible party for management of the water scheme, the Wanginyi community has improved management and operations of the water system and is taking advantage of internal and external financing to fund maintenance and extension of water services to reach more people. The COWSO has opened its first bank account, doubled its capacity, and installed water meters at all 41 water points serving nearly a thousand people. The COWSO also developed a business plan, prepared financial documents to track revenues and expenses, improved record keeping, and set a more sustainable tariff structure that has ensured a steady revenue that allows the organization to further extend its water distribution system to new public water points and schools.

Boaz Paulo Kabelege, Wanginyi COWSO chairperson, says the improved management system and corrected water tariff has increased revenues from Tanzanian Shilling (TZS) 120,000 to TZS 1,500,000. The COWSO uses new water meters for hands-on training opportunities for installation and meter reading—including public demonstrations of how to calibrate meters for accuracy. Improved metering is helping to control water loss and build trust within the community on the metering system, which legitimizes revenue collection.

WARIDI has partnered with 20 districts on water supply management across the Wami-Ruvu and Rufiji River basins of Tanzania. This initiative has provided the support needed to organize and register 272 COWSOs, 74 percent of which were minimally operational when WARIDI began working with them. Since support began in 2019, most COWSOs are fully operational and serve hundreds of thousands of people. “Long-term improvements in water service delivery will still be a challenge for many COWSOs,” says Megann Mielke, WASH technical advisor for WARIDI. “However, capacity building coupled with external sources of financing present a major opportunity to sustainably scale water service delivery to many more Tanzanians.”

Overall, WARIDI and its partners expect to improve access to basic water services for 520,000 Tanzanians by the end of the activity in 2021 through improvements to management and operations, rehabilitation, and construction of piped water systems.

About the authors

Headshot of Yussef Kajenje

Yussuf Kajenje

Yussuf Kajenje was the Communications Specialist on the WARIDI, supporting communications and outreach to diverse audiences from the private, public, and civil society.

He has more than 24 years of experience in communications, knowledge management, and journalism in Tanzania and East Africa.

Headshot of Leif Kindberg

Leif Kindberg

Leif Kindberg, former associate with Tetra Tech’s International Development Group, has more than 10 years’ experience working on diverse climate change and natural resources management programs.

His work focuses on integrated climate resilience planning for human and environmental systems to meet development objectives. He holds an M.B.A. from The George Washington University.

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