By Arusha Times correspondent
Initially there was no water at all. The villagers had to trek many kilometres in search of the precious liquid for domestic use and for their livestock.
For years the situation remained grim for the 8,000 inhabitants of Katikati village in Kiteto district whose livestock herds outnumber the human population ten times.
It was not only the long distance to the available water holes or ponds in the parched land of the vast Manyara region that pained the cattle keepers.
Even in nearby dry river beds or depressions, women and children were forced to dig up the earth in order to reach water, however murky, in order to sustain their livelihood and their 80,000 animals.
This is not the case now, thanks to a recently completed water project implemented by the United Nations through the International Fund for Agricultural Development (Ifad).
"Kids are now going to school because there is water", said the Resident Coordinator of the UN System in Tanzania Mr. Alvaro Rodgriguez in Arusha after a recent visit UN-supported projects in Morogoro, Singida and Manyara regions.
He said scarcity of water had fuelled conflicts among its multiple users in the district inhabited mainly by nomadic pastoralists. In recent years, the area has seen an influx of hundreds of farmers from neighbouring districts.
He added that the UN spent Sh. 500m to supply water to Katikati village and that the project has opened up more demands for similar schemes in neighbouring villages.
"There is another village some 40 kilometres away which needs water", he told reporters, noting the social services such as provision of water would continue to be the priority of the UN assistance to the rural communities.
Mr. Rodriquez, who doubles as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) representative to Tanzania, said water sources were drying up in many parts of the country due to the impact of climate change.
The impact was more pronounced in Manyara and Singida regions but equally worrying in Morogoro where flooding has destroyed farms, homes and bridges in recent years.
Hoyce Temu, the communication analyst with UNDP said the UN was also supporting the three regions with new water use and conservation techniques.
She said although Singida and Manyara used to have a cycle of severe drought each after 10 years, droughts were more common now once in five or six years.
"Water needs to be managed better through storage and through avoiding over use or poor use. You can produce more with less water", she explained.