Water crisis looms as demand outstrips supply

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The Arusha Urban Water and Sewerage Authority (AUWSA), has been compelled to ration water supplies to all Arusha city residents due to the swelling human population and change in behavioral weather patterns in the country.

Addressing reporters in her office at the end of the week, the water authority Director, Engineer Ruth Koya said the situation will affect many areas and especially the newly extended ones which caused the city's increase in square kilometres. Before Arusha became a city it had an area of 93 square kilometres and a daily consumption of 53,000 cubic metres of water. On becoming a city its area expanded to 208 square kilometres. Its water consumption rose to 93,000 cubic metres per day.

"Even with the population boom, the authority has been unable to serve adequately owing to other factors which have also contributed greatly to its constraints. These include environmental degradation, increased sub-urban human settlement and changed behavioral weather patterns. The current water pumps are unable to meet water demands due to failure of pumping capacity," said Engineer Koya.

Because of these impediments, the authority has been coerced to ration water to its customers. The rationing will be severe and may stretch for a longer period. Water volume in the wells is depleting due to prolonged drought which has been encountered in many parts of the country.

Already efficient short-term remedies have to be undertaken, according to her. They include immediate rehabilitation of nine wells which were drilled in 1980, sinking a well at Sokon One and erecting a special clean water centre at Engutoto. The authority also has inline centralized development plans of creating new water sources to alleviate the shortage in the already expanding city. The city has expanded by 123.7 per cent from 93 sq.km to 208 sq.km.

The authority serves 32,000 customers. The most affected areas by the current water shortage are Kwa Mrombo, Njiro, FFU and Sokon One predominantly due to their far distances from the sources.

Arusha residents from numerous areas have expressed their dismay on the prevailing water shortage crisis that has left them totally without water for drinking and domestic use for the last two months or so.

According to Mwanaisha Juma, a resident of Shamsi here in Arusha town, people have grown weary of longing for water. For the last two months, they have not had water. They have resorted to begging the commodity from people who own wells. The well is unsafe for consumption.

Juma said, “The last time they had water was in November last year. The water would trickle from the taps late in the night. Then it disappeared for good. Mine is not a lone cry. We are all suffering. I cannot understand what the problem is.”

Another victim of the water shortage crisis, a Hiace vehicle owner, Azizi Juma and also a resident of Shamsi said that before the crisis set in they would take vehicles for washing at Tarakea in Chamsi where services were available. Each vehicle was charged between Tsh.1,500 and Tsh.2,000. Today, the same charges have skyrocketed to between Tsh.6,000 and Tsh.7,000.

“The problem has intensified. Life has become a real crisis. I no longer take my vehicle to a car wash. I wash it myself in the river. Where do I get the money for the services? I request the water authority to endeavour and come up with several water points so that we can get water,” said Juma.

Rose Mollel, a Kwa Mrombo resident, also aired her lamentations. She said that they had forgotten whether tapped water ever existed. It reaches them perhaps once in a month with a lot of hitches. The taps may trickle with drops of water in the middle of night when all are asleep. They may never even know about it. One is lucky to get a pail before it disappears again. We no longer depend on tap water.

She added that they walk for long distances to fetch water from people with wells.”Before hand we used to be given water freely. Today we are charged Tsh.100 a pail. The water authority should consider our plight. Every where people painfully lamenting. Well, water isn’t safe, but we have no other alternative,” said Mollel.

At Bondeni area near the central marketplace, a proprietor with a borehole is now serving a large population from as far as Ngarenaro selling a bucket of water including push cart service at Tsh.400. Restaurants buy up to about 10 buckets a day.