Limited access to safe water
Over 75 per cent of Tanzanians do not have access to adequate sanitation, and nearly 50 per cent do not have access to safe water.
All across rural Tanzania people are dependent on dams, waterholes and streams. They have to share the water with their animals, and the water is often dirty and can cause serious illnesses if it is not boiled. The job of collecting water lies mainly with women and children. It is exhausting work – some people have to walk up to 10 kilometres each day.
Many people are subsistence farmers, but low rainfall, rough terrain and low arability mean that agricultural productivity is far below necessary levels and children under five are chronically malnourished.
Building a water system together
Caritas talked with villagers to find out their water needs. From their discussions they came up with a project that would supply 16,000 people living in four villages with safe, clean water.
Each village started its own water committee made up of both men and women. The committee members learnt to work together to manage the distribution of water, to improve hygiene practices and to construct toilets. As a result, women have become more accepted as decision-makers.
Caritas supplied villagers with materials and training, and the villagers carried out the construction work.
Water tanks were built by the villagers to store water piped from a reservoir further up the mountain. They provide a regular supply throughout the year. Water is gravity-fed to the tank and then to pipes near each house. At the village of Kigare, 35 kilometres of pipe was laid so that no-one has to walk more than 500 metres for water.
Water on tap
Lucia's family now has a tap in their yard and it has improved their lives.
Before the completion of the project I used to have to walk a long way for water and carry it uphill to my home. I was always exhausted. We needed the water for drinking, washing, cleaning and cooking.
Having water on tap means Lucia, her sisters and mother can use their time for other things like working their land and attending school. They now have a vegetable garden that gives them a fresher, more nutritious diet.
The villagers' production of bananas has increased from 100 to 400 bunches per year, and bags of rice have increased from 10 to 25 per acre per year. New drought-resistant seeds and improved farming techniques have led to other increased yields. What food that villagers don't eat can be sold at the local market.
Lucia's family is now able to plant and look after trees. This helps prevent erosion and helps the environment. In the past, water was too precious to be used for trees.
Lucia and other children no longer have to spend hours collecting water, so they can attend school. With better nutrition and less exhaustion they are able to concentrate and learn better.
Water for health, nutrition and poverty alleviation
More water has allowed people to improve their toilet facilities and hand-washing, which means there are fewer cases of water-borne disease.
Every person in the village benefits from the water project.
View the video