Women in rural areas spend hours fetching water.

As the population increases coupled with increased industrial and irrigation activities, water demands increase rapidly calling for immediate action. To address the situation, Drilling and Dam Construction Agency (DDCA) digs deep and shallow wells and constructs dams in the country. DDCA was established in 1997. It is a government agency operating under the Ministry of Water and Irrigation.

As the nation heads towards the Annual Water Week which commences tomorrow (March 16) and ends Thursday (March 22), many Tanzanians lack access to clean and safe water. In many places, both urban and rural, water is a problem and women waste valuable time, queuing up at the water wells. Some of them have had to abandon income generating activities in the endless search for water.

The Chief Executive Officer of DDCA, Jonathan Mgaiwa says that efforts have been undertaken to solve the water problem. According to Mgaiwa, since their establishments in 1997, a total of 6,614 wells have been sunk, out of which 5,639 wells supply water, while 975 are under construction.

Mgaiwa says that he would like to see DDCA take a lead in the construction of water wells and dams that give value for money and deliver better services for the people. He says that DDCA’s main customers are small scale farmers, households and livestock keepers. Other customers are the government and its institutions, manufacturers, large scale farmers and religious organisations.

“The main objective of DDCA is to improve water supply and make sure that access to water is affordable,” Mgaiwa says. An average of 450 water wells is constructed each year by DDCA. Additional objectives of the agency are to oversee and enhance the availability of water and to improve accessibility of clean and safe water for different purposes including domestic, agriculture, livestock, fish projects, industries to alleviate poverty.

Commercial by nature, the agency is involved in research and examines soil samples to establish whether a particular area is good enough for sinking water wells and the construction of dams. The agency scrutinizes the quality of water before a well is dug.

The cost of digging water wells depends on many factors such as the size of a well and the type of pipeline that will be used in the construction process. The nature of the terrain and distance from DDCA equipment all contribute into assessing the costs.

The Deputy Minister of Water and Irrigation   Gerson Lwenge says that the problem of water in many places in Dar es Salaam will be history after the installation of heavy duty pipes at lower Ruvu, running from Bagamoyo to Dar es Salaam. He says water is very important because it is also used for agriculture through irrigation to ensure food security.

“Food security depends on the availability of water including rain water, water wells and that from catchment areas,” he says. By depending on rain water, many farmers lose out because even after they have cultivated, their crops dry up due to lack of water to irrigate them.  The theme for this year’s Water Week is “Water for Food Security.”

While the government continues with efforts to improve water accessibility new research conducted by Norway discovered another source of water at Kimbiji in Kigamboni.  The new source will have the capacity of 260,000 litres of water which, if combined with other reliable sources of water, is sufficient enough to meet the water demands in Dar es Salaam.

Officials from Dawasa and Dawasco said in 2010 that the project will be completed in three years.President Jakaya Kikwete pressed them to make sure that it is completed sooner. “I directed that one contractor should be assigned to deal with water wells only, another one for installation of tanks and the supply of large pipes should be assigned to another contractor so that the project can be completed earlier,” said President Kikwete.

By DEOGRATIAS MUSHI, Tanzania Daily News

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