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

Saturday, 3 February 2007

Saturday 3 February

I’m just back from a visit to Tabata, one of the districts in Dar. I’m visiting a sub ward of about 14,000 people. In this area, drinking water comes from the piped network plus deep wells for those without a household connection. This is not one of Dar’s poorest areas, as some people do have household connections. I speak to some members of the local authority committee about their community to find out how their water services have changed over time, including over the period that City Water Services was in charge.

Says, Saidi Nassord Msamju, “Under CWS sometimes we only got water once every 2 or 3 months.” Adds Winfrida Ndibalema, “And even when it did come, it might only last 15 minutes as the pipes would be full of air and the water could not get through!”

Saidi Nassord Msamju: “As the local committee we sent a number of formal complaints to CWS, but to our dismay we did not get much of a response. We wrote maybe 3 letters and made 3 visits to the CWS office in Ilala because the situation was bad here; workers came to visit but nothing changed. At one point we were 3 months without water. In the end, Minister Lowassa (then water minister) came to visit us as the problem was so acute. After that, things improved for a while because of the political pressure, but then the problems came back. When CWS was around it was very difficult times.”

I explain that now CWS are taking legal action against the government of Tanzania for cancelling their contract. Saidi Nassord Msamju replies: “I am wondering why CWS are now suing us? They should compensate us as they did a bad job, rather than make a claim!” Winfrida says, “At least now under Dawasco, water comes far more regularly, maybe every 3 days or so.”

Finally, I ask about the infamous privatisation pop song, paid for by UK aid money - do they remember it at all? Saidi Nassord Msamju says, “I cannot sing the song myself but I can remember the message. It was meant to emphasise that public services are changing for the worse so we need to bring in private companies which would make changes, improve employment, provide better services. The main theme of the song was to uplift, but when CWS came, instead of services improving, services went down which was very disappointing.”

I’m coming to the end of my trip. Over the past week or more, I’ve spoken to lots of people and really learnt a huge amount about the water and sanitation problems facing Dar’s citizens. Clearly the challenges ahead are great. As the people in Tabata told me, sanitation has been forgotten and who of us from the UK would be content with receiving water once every 3 days? But the people in Tabata can remember when water was far less regular than this, and the people I spoke to were grateful for improvements under Dawasco. I really hope that Dawasco can turn things around for the people of Dar.


1 comment:

Pete said...

The World Bank has a website featuring the song. Tanzania: Singing for the Privatization hit parade
From the page:
"Government people and business people, Tanzanians and foreigners, are like four legs of a table at which our children will one day feast."