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Tanzania is part of:
Africa · Eastern Africa ·
Water Basins of Tanzania:
Congo-Zaire · Lake Natron · Nile · Pangani · Ruvuma · Umba · Zambezi ·
Facts & Figures edit
Capital Dodoma (official)
Neighbouring Countries Burundi, Congo , Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Uganda, Zambia
Total Area 945,087 km2
  - Water 59,050 km2 (6.25%) / 625 m2/ha
  - Land 886,037 km2
Coastline 1,424 km
Population 38,328,810 (41 inhab./km2)
HDIA 0.786 (2007)
Gini CoefficientA 42 (1995)
Nominal GDPB $20,630 million
GDP (PPP) Per CapitaB $1,400
Land UseC
  - Cultivated Land 47,757 km2 (5.39%)
     - Arable 37,479 km2 (4.23%)
     - Permanent Crops 10,278 km2 (1.16%)
     - Irrigated 1,840 km2
  - Non cultivated 838,280 km2 (94.61%)
Average Annual RainfallD 1071 mm
Renewable Water ResourcesE 91 km3
Water WithdrawalsF n/a km3/yr
  - For Agricultural Use 89%
  - For Domestic Use 10%
  - For Industrial Use 0%
  - Per Capita 149 m3
Population with safe access to
  - Improved Water Source 62%
     - Urban population 85%
     - Rural population 49%
  - Improved Sanitation 47%
     - Urban population n/a
     - Rural population 43%
References & Remarks
A UNDP Human Development Report
B CIA World Factbook and Wikipedia
C CIA World Factbook Country Profiles
D Aquastat - FAO's Information System on Water and Agriculture
E CIA World Factbook
F Earthtrends

> Articles | Projects & Case studies | Publications & Web resources | Who is who | Maps
> Sector Assessment | Sector Coordination | Donor Profile

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Country Profile: Climate, Geography, Socio-Economic Context

Country Profile: Water Bodies and Resources

Tanzania has substantial freshwater resources, including three large lakes that it shares with other countries and that account for about 6% of total surface area of the country. Lake Victoria in the northwest (shared with Uganda and Kenya), has a surface area of about 69,000 square kilometers and is the second-largest freshwater lake in the world (after Lake Superior in the U.S./Canada). Tanzania has a 51% share of the lake. Tanzania also has a 41% share of Lake Tanganyika on the western border (shared with Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia), and an 18% share of Lake Nyasa (also known as Lake Malawi) in the southwest (shared with Malawi and Mozambique). The largest rivers are the Rufiji, the Great Ruaha, the Igombe and the Ruvuma, which forms the border with Mozambique to the south. Tanzania has nine drainage basins, including the Lake Victoria basin, which is part of the Nile River basin.

Rainfall varies from about 500 to 1000 millimeters annually in most of the country. The highest rainfall (1000– 3000 millimeters annually) occurs in the northeastern part of the Lake Tanganyika basin and the southern highlands. The central region receives the least rainfall and is arid or semiarid.

Total renewable water resources in Tanzania amount to 93 cubic kilometers per year, of which about 84 cubic kilometers are internally produced. Total actual renewable water resources per person are 2035 cubic meters per year. Agriculture is the largest user of freshwater resources (89% of withdrawals), followed by domestic use (10%) and industry (1%). Tanzania’s irrigation potential is estimated to be about 2 million hectares. The government has been supporting the expansion of irrigation, which has grown from 150,000 hectares in 2002 to about 310,000 hectares in 2009. Gravity-fed irrigation using surface water accounts for over 99% of irrigated area, and groundwater is utilized in only 0.2% of all irrigated area.

Tanzania has an estimated hydroelectric power potential of 4.7 gigawatts, only 10% of which has been developed. About 10% of urban residents and 1% of rural residents have electricity. Most of the country’s hydropower potential is in the Rufiji river system, which runs 600 kilometers across the country from its source in the southwestern part of the country to its mouth on the Indian Ocean. Other rivers with hydropower potential are the Kagera, Wami and Pangani.

Although Tanzania has abundant water resources, some parts of the country experience water scarcity due to low and variable rainfall, climate variability and poor surface-water management. The fertile highlands, especially in Kilimanjaro and Meru, have been committed to growing cash crops, especially coffee and tea, while the production of food crops is concentrated in low-lying areas where rainfall is less reliable and the land is subject to periodic drought and flooding. Climate change is exacerbating already unpredictable weather conditions; since the 1920s, the country has experienced decreasing rainfall and rising temperatures. Dependence on rainfall is a limiting factor in agricultural production, creating food insecurity and low income-generation.

On the mainland, as of 2007, 57% of the rural population and 83% of the urban population had access to improved drinking water sources. A slightly higher proportion (59%) of Zanzibar’s rural population had access, as did an estimated 75% of Zanzibar’s urban population. However, Zanzibar has frequent drinking-water shortages during times of drought. Overall, about 47% of rural households in Tanzania use unprotected sources of drinking water, and women and children spend a significant amount of time obtaining water for their families.

Tanzania’s groundwater quality is generally good. Surface water quality has been compromised in some areas by the discharge of untreated effluents, untreated waste and pesticides into rivers and lakes. Expanding coastal populations and emerging industrial development have severely polluted some coastal waters, especially off the coast of Dar Es Salaam, Tanga and Mtwara. Lake Victoria suffers from discharge of raw sewage and untreated industrial effluents from the Mwanza municipality. Zanzibar’s surface water sources suffer contamination from improperly managed human waste and sanitation services.

Country Profile: Legal and Institutional Environment

Legal Framework

The 2009 Water Resources Management Act (Water Resources Act) implements the 2002 Water Policy and 2006 Water Sector Development Strategy. The Act creates the institutional and legal framework for the sustainable management of the country’s water resources. The Act regulates the management, use and protection of the country’s water resources for the benefit of the population, to meet basic human needs and promote equitable access, and to support the sustainable efficient use of water resources. The Act sets out the ownership and use-structure for water resources and the governance structure, which includes National Water Boards, Basin Water Boards, Catchment and Sub-Catchment Water Committees and Water User Associations.

The 2009 Water Resources Act provides that the country’s water is a public resource vested in the state, with the President authorized to act as trustee of the resource on behalf of the population. The Act requires anyone who diverts, dams, stores, abstracts or uses water – other than for domestic purposes – to obtain a water permit from the Basin Water Board. Individuals and groups with legal access to land are permitted to access surface water for domestic needs without a permit. Landholders are also permitted to access to groundwater through hand-dug wells and may construct facilities to harvest rainwater for domestic use without a permit.

A companion law, the 2009 Water Supply and Sanitation Act, focuses on the supply of drinking water and sanitation services. The Act provides for the transparent regulation of water supply and sanitation services and the creation of authorities to manage water supply and sanitation sustainably. The Act restructures the water supply sector around decentralized and devolved authorities, which are designed to be commercial entities, and outlines the responsibilities of government authorities involved in the water sector. The Act provides for the creation of Community Owned Water Supply Organizations (COWSOs) to manage potable water resources at the local level. The law gives COWSOs ownership of water points and infrastructure, empowers COWSOs to grant and deny access to water in accordance with established conditions, and grants COWSOs the right to levy fees for water services.

Zanzibar enacted a new water law in 2006 (Water Act No. 4 of 2006) to control water-use on the island and prevent water pollution. The law declares all water resources to be the property of the government and imposes a fee for the use of all water other than rainwater and seawater. Zanzibar’s 2007 Strategy for Growth and Poverty Reduction identifies the water sector as a priority area and provides that the government will: implement the new legal framework governing water resources; develop plans to protect water catchments; conduct research on groundwater potential; rehabilitate infrastructure; promote and strengthen public-private partnerships in water development, supply and financing; and promote community-based management of water supply.

Institutional Framework

The Ministry of Water and Irrigation is responsible for setting policy and national strategy for water resource development and ensuring execution of the national strategy for drinking-water and other water uses. The Minister appoints the National Water Board, establishes and supervises the work of Basin Water Boards, and ensures the sustainable development of water resources in the public interest. The minister is supported by the Director of Water Resources who oversees water management and planning, coordinates the work of the Basin Water Boards, resolves disputes, supervises data collection and water audits, and determines investment priorities. The National Water Board serves as an advisor to the Minister and provides inter-sectoral coordination and resolution of international water issues.

The Ministry of Water and Irrigation establishes the Basin Water Boards and appoints the Basin Water Officer, which is the lead position on the board. The Basin Water Boards create water management plans; prepare guidelines for construction of water-source structures; collect and analyze data for water resources management; monitor water use and pollution; resolve intra-basin water conflicts; and serve as a channel of communication to water users. Basin Water Boards maintain a registry of water permits issued. The minister can also declare areas to be catchments and sub-catchments and establish Catchment Committees and Sub-Catchment Committees. The committees are responsible for coordinating water management plans, resolving disputes and performing other functions delegated by the Basin Water Boards. At the community level, Water User Associations (WUAs) are responsible for managing water supply and distribution for other uses, including irrigation. WUAs can obtain permits, collect fees for the Basin Water Board, and represent a special interest or value for water resources, such as in a conservation area.

Management of the supply of drinking water has a separate governance system under the Ministry of Water and Irrigation and the Minister of State for Regional Administration and Local Government. The Minister of State for Regional Administration and Local Government ensures that water supply and sanitation services are implemented and is responsible for coordinating the roles and duties of local authorities and community organizations. The ministries have joint responsibility for establishing district water authorities. A regional secretariat is responsible for implementing ministry directives in each region. In urban areas, Urban Water and Sanitation Authorities (UWSSAs) manage water and sanitation services. Water supply in small towns is covered by District Urban Water Supply and Sanitation Authorities, while Community Owned Water Supply Organizations (COWSOs) are created to manage water supply and distribution in rural areas. District councils provide COWSOs with block grants to pay for infrastructure development, but COWSOs are expected to finance their costs and operations through consumer fees.

In addition, Tanzania established a multi-sector regulator, the Energy and Water Utilities Regulatory Authority (EWURA), within the urban water supply and sanitation sector. EWURA licenses all providers of urban water services, sets technical standards and monitors performance.

The Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) is a cooperative framework created in 1999 to govern Nile Basin water resources. All ten riparian states (Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, DCR, Egypt, Sudan, Burundi, Rwanda, Eritrea and Ethiopia) signed the agreement and committed to developing cooperative-use agreements to achieve sustainable socioeconomic development through the equitable utilization of the common Nile Basin water resources. The NBI, based in Entebbe, is implementing numerous projects, including a regional power trade between Tanzania and Kenya and the Rusumo Falls Hydroelectric and Multipurpose Project. The Rusumo Falls project is developing a hydroelectric power station (60–75 megawatt estimated capacity) that will connect to the national grids in Rwanda and Burundi and supply electricity to the western provinces of Tanzania, which are not on the national grid.

Government Reforms and Interventions

In 2002, the government issued the National Water Policy, which was designed to address: the competing demands on the country’s water resources; scarcity of water in some regions of the country; degradation of water sources; inadequate access to safe drinking water; and fragmented planning. The National Water Policy is based on principles of: (1) equal and fair access to and allocation of water resources; (2) effective and efficient water-resources utilization; (3) better management of water quality and conservation; (4) better management and conservation of ecosystems and wetlands; (5) financial sustainability and autonomy of Basin Water Boards; and (6) promotion of regional and international cooperation in the planning, management and utilization of water. The policy supports decentralized water-management and revision of the existing perpetual water-right system to a system allocating water rights for a specific duration.

The 2006 National Water Sector Development Strategy (passed in 2008), designed to implement the 2002 National Water Policy, recognizes the importance of universal access to improved water supply and sanitation and the need to develop institutions and methods capable of rapidly expanding services across the country. The National Water Sector Development Strategy and Programme focuses on water-resources management, institutional development and capacity-building, development of district water supply and sanitation plans, execution of business plans for utilities operating in regional and district capitals and plans for water delivery and management in small towns.

In 2006, the government created the National Water Sector Development Programme, which runs through 2025. During the initial phase from 2006 to 2011, total investments for the different subsectors are expected to reach US $950 million. The government’s Agriculture Sector Development Programme (ASDP), which is funded with US $1.5 billion over seven years, initially planned to increase the extent of irrigated land to 1 million hectares by 2011. Progress since the project began in 2006 has been slow, with only about 10,000–15,000 hectares put under irrigation annually. The government has revised its goal to have 379,000 irrigated hectares by 2011. As of 2009, about 310,000 hectares were irrigated. The US Government’s Feed the Future (FtF) initiative is supporting the GOT’s efforts with funding for irrigation and the development of models for local water resource management.

In Zanzibar, the government has been engaged in reforming the water sector with the adoption of a new water law in 2006 (Water Act No. 4 of 2006), the establishment of the Zanzibar Water Authority (ZAWA) in 2006, and adoption of new water regulations in 2008 that create a tariff structure and set water-service charges. The African Development Bank (AfDB) and UN-Habitat are providing institutional development, capacity-building and technical assistance to help the government implement the new framework.

The government completed the restructuring of the water governance sector and established a new legal framework governing the water sector in 2009. Initiatives under the government’s National Strategy for Growth and Reduction of Poverty 2011–2015 (Mkukuta II) include plans to: (1) strengthen the capacity of basin-level water-resources management institutions including water-user associations; (2) rehabilitate equipment and infrastructure; (3) construct new dams; (4) demarcate and protect water sources in all basins to protect them from environmental depletion and pollution; (5) rehabilitate and construct new drinking-water sources; (6) register Community Owned Water Supply and Sanitation Organizations; and (7) conduct water-point mapping countrywide.

Mkukuta II also restates the government’s plan to build a dam on the Ruvu River in the Kidunda area of the Morogoro region to supply water to Dar es Salaam and its environs. Construction is expected to begin in 2011–2012 and take three years. The area is environmentally and socioeconomically sensitive. Of the 473 square kilometers of land designated as dam area, 123 square kilometers comprises the Selous Game Reserve (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), 85 square kilometers are in the Mkulazi Forest Reserve, 25 square kilometers are productive agricultural land, and 8 square kilometers are residential land.

Country Profile: Water Sector Coordination

See Sector coordination sub-page for detailed description

Country Profile: Trends in Water Use, Management and Sanitation

Country Profile: Challenges and Opportunities

Despite the institutional and policy reforms referred to above, key factors constrain further development in Tanzania’s WSS sector. Some constraints are being addressed through current policy and implementation strategy reforms such as better sector monitoring and evaluation (M&E), donor coordination, and local service provider capacity building, but other challenges remain. Persisting constraints include allocation of resources to the district level including poor compensation for staff and low access to sanitation facilities. Increased support of regional secretariats (RSs) and district water authorities is key to mitigating the constraints. Since so much authority and responsibility has been devolved to newly created water authorities, a significant amount of capacity building is necessary to impart best management practices. Appropriate compensation for staff is also needed so that service providers can attract and retain more technically proficient personnel.

Donor Involvement

The World Bank provided US $165 million for a Dar es Salaam Water Supply and Sanitation Project that is ending in 2010. The project was designed to provide a reliable, affordable and sustainable water supply service and improve the sewerage and sanitation in the Dar es Salaam Water and Sewerage Authority (DAWASA) service area (Dar es Salaam and part of the coast region). The project replaced aging high-lift pumps and spares essential to the continued functioning of the Upper Ruvu and Lower Ruvu plants, which had been experiencing frequent breakdowns that had disrupted service-delivery to Dar es Salaam. As of the end of 2009, the DAWASA service area had been largely restored. In the project areas, water supply is stable and reliable, water quality meets targeted standards, and about 80% of the population (estimated 2.1 million) has water-supply access with rationing and storage. The project also delivered off-network services to about 406,000 people in peri-urban areas under the Community Water and Sanitation Program.

The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC)’s 2008–2012 US $698 million compact with Tanzania includes a US $65.6 million water component that aims to: (1) increase the quantity and reliability of potable water for domestic and commercial use; and (2) reduce the incidence of water-related disease. The MCC’s project builds on the World Bank’s investment in the Upper and Lower Ruvu plants. The MCC project is designed to expand the capacity of the Lower Ruvu water treatment plant, improve system efficiencies of the DAWASA, rehabilitate water intake and water treatment plants, and improve the existing distribution network in the city of Morogoro, which is about 190 kilometers west of Dar es Salaam.

The World Bank is also funding a 5-year (2007–2012), US $200 million Water Sector Support Project designed to strengthen sector institutions for integrated water-resources management and improve access to water supply and sanitation services. The project includes components that will: (1) strengthen institutional capacity for improving the management of water resources by providing logistical and technical assistance to the nine basin institutions and their management systems; (2) support all local governments in the scaling-up of the provision of rural water and sanitation services in pursuit of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs); (3) support urban areas and gazetted small town utilities in the scaling-up of provision of urban water and sanitation services in pursuit of the MDGs; and (4) support the Ministry of Water and strengthen subsector planning and operational capacities. After 18 months of implementation (the end of 2009), the program was active in all nine basin level offices, 124 of 134 districts, and over 70 regional and district utilities. About 1843 of 3948 subprojects were completed in rural areas, adding about 4047 water points and increasing coverage to some 1,045,000 people. About 250 new water rights were granted, 175 WUAs were established and 68 gauging stations were rehabilitated.

The Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) has been working with water users, local communities and decision-makers in Tanzania and Kenya to help them manage the Mara River, which runs through the Masai Mara Game Reserve in Kenya and the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania before flowing into Lake Victoria. Communities along the river have been experiencing water shortages and increasingly poor water quality as a result of agricultural runoff, mining and large-scale irrigation development. The WWF project is facilitating an integrated river-basin management approach to create initiatives for the conservation, sustainable and equitable use, and restoration of freshwater resources of the Mara River. On the Tanzanian side, as of 2010, the 9-year project had helped form a Catchment Committee with 14 Water User Associations, had created 25 community action plans, and supported the Ministry of Water and Irrigation’s effort to rehabilitate 13 stalled river gauging stations.

With US $90 million in World Bank funding, the government is undertaking the Lake Victoria Environment Management Project. One objective of the project is to harmonize the national policies, legislation and regulatory standards of Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda to ensure sustainable management of Lake Victoria’s shared water and fishery resources.

The AfDB is funding the 4-year (2009–2012), US $42 million Zanzibar Water and Sanitation project to support the Zanzibar Water Authority with institutional development and technical support and help it develop and implement its Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Program, which includes schemes for eight regions in Unguja and Pemba, including schemes to provide water to schools and health centers. The project has an urban water-supply component that will improve water infrastructure, drill new boreholes and update water-testing techniques and equipment.


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Projects and Case Studies

Projects in or about Tanzania

(this is a list of the 15 most recently updated entries. To see all projects click here)

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  15. Promotion of rainwater harvesting technology for water supply and sanitation in schools - Mhande Secondary School ‎(1,993 views) . . WikiBot

Case studies in or about Tanzania

(by popularity)

  1. Water Conflict and Cooperation/Nile River Basin ‎(54,766 views) . . Katy.norman
  2. The Nile: Moving Beyond Cooperation ‎(10,686 views) . . Katy.norman

See the complete list of WaterWiki documented projects in Tanzania


5 most recently updated publications on Tanzania
  1. Water Conflict and Cooperation/Nile River Basin ‎(54,766 views) . . Katy.norman
  2. The Nile: Moving Beyond Cooperation ‎(10,686 views) . . Katy.norman

5 most popular publications on Tanzania
  1. Water Conflict and Cooperation/Nile River Basin ‎(54,766 views) . . Katy.norman
  2. The Nile: Moving Beyond Cooperation ‎(10,686 views) . . Katy.norman

See the complete list of WaterWiki documented publications on Tanzania

Who is Who

People working in Tanzania

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See the complete list of Waterwiki users working in Tanzania

Organizations working in Tanzania

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See the complete list of WaterWiki documented organizations in Tanzania


See also

External Resources

"Water Supply and Sanitation in Tanzania" on WaterWiki




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