ZAITUNI Luiza, a 42-year-oldmother of four children and her three colleagues, wear broad smiles as they attend to customers who visit their stalls at the hectic Msamvu area along the Dar es Salaam Mbeya highway in Morogoro region, situated on the lower slopes of Uluguru Mountains.
They have one thing in common–they are all food vendors. Ms Luiza and her colleagues are among tens of hundreds of beneficiaries of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC)’s 12 million dollar water supply project in Morogoro region that was part of the $ 54.6 million water sector project in Tanzania that was implemented between 2008 and 2013.
Ms Luiza recalls how residents, especially women, in the region located about 200 kilometers west of the commercial capital Dar es Salaam, spent sleepless nights looking for the precious liquid.
By the time the government of Tanzania signed the MCC Compact program in 2008, water problem in the region was becoming a headache as the population was thriving.
Back then, villagers would travel a distance of more than two hours in search for the precious liquid, said Ms Luiza, adding that when they arrived at the wells, long lines of people waited their turns to fill their jerry cans.
The food vendor observed that access to reliable, affordable and clean water was a key factor in the reduction of waterborne diseases and the increase in productivity that would benefit residents in the region.
The MCC’s investment in the region involved construction of a new water treatment plant to replace the Mambogo plant, rehabilitation of the larger Mafiga plant, installation of almost two kilometers of water main pipe and the upgrading of the Morogoro town’s water storage capacity.
“Before the rehabilitation and expansion of the two main water supply facilities at Mafiga and Mambogo in our region, residents had to travel for more than two hours to find clean water, and even after traveling such a long distance, we had to wait as the queuing time would usually be long,” she said, adding that now she can access water all the time at her business premise.
She says her food vending business is flourishing due to frequent access to clean and safe water. Her story was echoed by Mzee Idelphonce Mbilinyi, who says that he has been living in Morogoro region since 1970 and he had witnessed how people suffered from water shortage.
“I am among the witnesses of the implementation of the two robust projects that ended water shortage in the region,” said the retired primary school teacher. “Because of the long lines and tensions that arose while waiting for water, many people fought each other and they would often fetch dirty water from the surface ponds that were unsafe for drinking and cooking. Children would regularly become sick because of waterborne diseases from the dirty water,’’ he explained.
The soft-spoken Mzee Mbilinyi added: “But now the women who were the most suffering are happy, and life here has completely changed. But the blessing of clean water is not only for the women to enjoy; it’s for the entire region of Morogoro because what was once a more than two-hour walk to fetch water is now only zero meters from their homes.’’
The project, among other things, involved rehabilitation of Mafiga water treatment plant, rehabilitation and upgrading of the water purification system as well as completion of the transmission line.
A spot-check by the Daily News at both the infrastructures showed that both plants were fully functional with no major maintenance issues.
Ongoing challenges facing the water infrastructure include power outages that affect production and long-term reliability of equipment, and the need to accommodate growing demand. Additionally, Morogoro Urban Water Supply and Sewage Authority’s (MORUWASA) revenues are sufficient only to cover operations, not major improvements or maintenance.
MORUWASA Managing Director, Eng. Tamim Katakweba, said the MCC project increased production volume and quality of piped water in Morogoro region, commending the US government for the project.
“If we get a similar funding in yet another similar MCC funding, I believe we will extend more water services to the people and of course some turbines in the two plants need to be refurbished so that they continue providing water without any outages caused by technical hiccups,” he says.
He told the Daily News in an interview that the projects had increased household income by over 15 percent, reduced morbidity from water-related illnesses and also reduced the time and cost spent on seeking or buying water.
“Reductions in water-related diseases and time spent collecting water have led to reduced expenditures on health care and increased attendance at school and work,” said Eng.
Katakweba. The objective of the MCC project was to increase investment in human and physical capital and reduce the prevalence of water related diseases.
The project was aimed to increase production and quality of water by rehabilitating the Mafiga treatment plant and building a new treatment plant in Mambogo. According to official statistics seen by this newspaper, the project increased water supply from 23 to 33 million liters per day in Morogoro region.
The MCC is an innovative and independent US foreign assistance agency that is helping lead the fight against global poverty.
Upon meeting the eligibility criteria, the Tanzanian government signed the first compact agreement with MCC on February 17, 2008 for a five-year grant (2008-2013), amounting to $698.1 million designed to benefit more than five million people by investing in the country through targeted infrastructure improvement projects in transportation, energy and water.