WDM in East Africa: reports from the World Social Forum and Tanzania

Sunday, 28 January 2007

Dar es Salaam

I’ve now been in Dar es Salaam for a few days. It’s a world away from the hustle and bustle, traffic congestion and noise of Nairobi. Instead Dar seems peaceful and green with tree-lined streets and an easier pace of life. There is a cool breeze coming off the Indian Ocean, although generally it’s hotter here (Nairobi is at a relative altitude).

Of course I am here primarily to talk to people about water – who gets it and who doesn’t – now, and of course before, when Biwater’s joint venture was in charge under the private contract.

We are lucky to have Mussa Billegeya from the Tanzanian Association of NGOs showing us round. I’m also here with a colleague from Food and Water Watch in the US. This morning Mussa took us to his church in Kinondoni district which was a great opportunity to meet some local people and start to understand the complexities of water distribution in Dar. At four hours, the service was somewhat longer than expected, although the fantastic singing and dancing made up for it.

Already we have seen evidence that Biwater (or City Water) was here. The water meters that we have spotted have been emblazoned with City Water. For people without a meter and a household connection, they may need to buy water from private seller or vendors. At 200 shillings (a few pence in UK money) for a 20 litre jerry can of water, it may seem cheap to us, but actually, this is far more expensive than what you pay if you have a tap in your house. Meanwhile, lots of people have huge 1000 or 2000 litre PVC tanks on their roofs to conserve water for the periods when the taps are on, but no water comes out.

Over the coming days, we have a variety of meetings planned with lots of different people, all of which should help us to understand the situation more clearly.

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