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

Thursday, 1 February 2007

Thursday 1 February

It rained for what was the first time in several weeks this morning. It absolutely poured down, leaving the streets of Dar awash with stagnant water, as the drainage system could not cope.

Anecdotally, people tell me that they can already see the impacts of climate change here, as well as in Kenya. Mathias Mulagwanda from People’s Voice for Development says that the snowcap on Kilimanjaro, which is just south of the Tanzanian border with Kenya, is dwindling and soon will just cover the very top of Africa’s hugest peak.

Mathias’ NGO works on community water projects in Dar. By helping communities drill boreholes, the cost of water can be reduced to maybe 20 shillings for 20 litres (still more expensive than piped water which might cost 6 shillings), but definitely a better option than the 200 shillings you might have to pay to private vendors (‘machingas’).

Overall Dar is a city of haves and have nots: for those of us who can afford it, we can drink bottled water, confident in the knowledge it is safe to drink. Everyone else must drink what they can get, with a lot of people collecting it in buckets from neighbours’ taps, from street stand pipes or from community wells.

The rain clears up and I spend a useful morning with TANGO – the Tanzanian Association of NGOs – and Mussa Billegeya. We discuss campaign plans for the coming months - there are several key dates which provide opportunities to raise the profile of water issues, including International Women’s Day and World Water Day, both in March. TANGO’s water campaign includes maybe 40 different NGOs across Tanzania. The collapse of the water privatisation in Dar and the subsequent legal action by Biwater has inadvertently served to mobilise groups in Tanzania and indeed across Africa.

Yesterday afternoon was spent sitting under the shade of huge leafy trees whilst attending a Gender and Development Seminar, which was hearing report-backs from the World Social Forum. Over 60 people are present to hear about the WSF and I am very pleased to present the formation of the African Water Network, which is greeted with a round of applause. These seminars are held every week and attract a variety of people from across Dar and beyond – women’s groups, youth groups and anyone else who is interested. The Tanzanian Gender Networking Programme hosts this seminar and I am really impressed by the event and the discussion that takes place.

No comments: