Dar es Salaam. Inadequate water treatment facilities among district and township water and sanitation authorities are putting people’s lives at risk, experts have said and called for urgent government intervention.
Sustainable Development Goal 6 seeks to ensure access to water and sanitation for all by 2030. This is the most basic human need for health and wellbeing, but billions of people will lack access to these services by 2030 unless progress quadruples.
According to the 2021/22 Water Utilities Performance Review Report released by the Energy and Water Utilities Regulatory Authority (Ewura), eight out of 57 districts and townships do not treat water supplied to customers. They are Dakawa, Ludewa, Lushoto, Namanyere, Kibondo, Mombo, Tunduma and Songe.
Thirty-six authorities treat water by disinfecting it only, mostly by using calcium hypochlorite. The regulator requires all authorities to ensure that water supplied to customers meets standards set by the Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS).
Water experts say untreated water endangers consumers’ lives. It must meet the relevant standards even if it is from underground sources, hence the need for the government to make sure that all authorities have the right systems in place to ensure that water supplied to customers is safe for consumption.
Water permanent secretary Nadhifa Kemikimba told The Citizen that measures to improve service and access to clean and safe water were being taken across the country.
Water treatment infrastructure is mandatory for water whose source is rivers such as Ruvu or Wami, she added. The water must be filtered to remove mud and other foreign matter and treated to destroy any agents that can cause diseases.
“The government is thus working to ensure that water distributed in cities and rural areas meets the relevant quality standards. All water authorities should adhere by existing guidelines on provision of water services to citizens,” Ms Kemikimba said.
The authority in Bunda District has completed the construction a filter as part of efforts to improve the quality of water supplied to residents.
Unveiling the performance review report in Dar es Salaam, Vice President Philip Mpango warned authorities against supplying water that did not meet the set standards and directed Ewura to strictly enforce standards related to water quality.
“The quality of water and sanitation is crucial. There are authorities that are ignoring this requirement. The regulator must take appropriate action,” he said.
A water and sanitation expert from the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM), Dr Richard Kimwaga, told The Citizen that water, irrespective of its source, must be treated before it is supplied to consumers and anything short of this endangers people’s lives.
It is the government’s responsibility, through Ewura, to ensure that all authorities have water treatment facilities, he said, adding that people should also be educated to raise awareness on water quality.
“SDG no 6 emphasises water availability and quality. If water is not treated, there is a possibility of people contracting diseases such as typhoid, Dr Kimwaga said.
He added that water treatment plants are costly, but people’s health is supposed to come first and supply of clean and safe water should not be viewed as a favour.
An assistant lecturer at the Water Institute (WI), Mr George Ishabairu, said every authority is supposed to have a quality control person, who analyses the quality of water on a regular basis.
How water is treated depends on where it comes from since this determines the type of compounds that are dissolved in it.
“Water used in rural areas mostly comes from underground sources, so experts must check its quality before it is supplied to the public,” Mr Ishabairu said.
Source: The Citizen