Water leaks expose Dar es Salaam dwellers to waterborne diseases

AURELLA Rose a mother of four living in Makuburi ,Ubungo, Dar es Salaam City depends on no permanent source of clean and safe water to cater for her household activities.

Her only hope is through leaking pipes that direct the precious liquid to the privileged people with water connection from the sole distributor Dar es Salaam and water Sewerage Corporation (DAWASCO). "I'm not one of the people with water that flows to their homes because I can’t afford water bills," she says. Ms Rose says her monthly revenue on her business is 150,000/- as she makes only 5000/- to 10,000/- per month.

According to Dawasco costs for water connection to individuals ranges between 150, 000/- 200,000/- as that for a corporate is 400,000/- The leaking water is her only hope. "I use the water that leaks from the pipes for cooking, washing clothes, utensils and other domestic activities," she asserts. How she collects the leaking water from pipes "I have to dig a hole near the burst pipe to let the water flow before collecting it," she says adding that,"I have to do that so that I can collect more.".

"Daily News' Survey in Ubungo, Mbezi Beach, Kimara and Tabata areas came across massive water leakages from pipes of Dar es Salaam Water and Sewerage Company (DAWASCO), a public sole distributor of the water in the City. The leakages are due to burst pipes, illegal connection and vandalism of the water equipment in the areas.

Leaks can also result from weakened iron pipes that react with soil over time leading to breaks. Like Rose, many residents especially those less privileged have resorted to using the leaking water, as they cannot afford to pay the bills for connection as well as paying monthly water bills. "Many people especially those with no flowing water in their homes rely on water vendors. Others buy from water kiosks. The leaking water too, serves them once they come across it," says DaffaJuma, a resident of MbeziKimara area.

He stresses that water sold by vendors is sometimes not reliable which force clients to resort to waterleaks. "Once they notice a leaking pipe, they even wish it becomes permanent for them to collect the water every day," he says. A bucket of water in the area goes for 300to 500 TZ shillings. One MankaSwai, a resident of Kimara calls for local government intervention to enable the residents have access to water for free.

“Water is a basic need, as one of the most affected residents, I would suggest we get free water from government so that most of us do not opt for water such as that from leaking pipes as we cannot afford paying bills for clean water”, he says. How clean are water leaks? MrJuma, who is oneof those who cannot access water says the water from broken pipes is not clean enough for human consumption. "Though, I have no water source at my home, I do not prefer using leaking water because it flows through dirty ground and pipes," he says.

Some of the water leaking on high pressure according to MrJuma flows through dirty grounds. "The process of collecting the water is not hygienic whether through the underground leaking pipes or the ones that are over the ground," he says adding that the leaking water can get contaminated with germs and bacteria likely to cause water borne diseases. SufianSufian, a resident of Mbezi says the leaking pipes affect the users of the water including those with their water taps at their homes.

“The water pumped through the broken pipes is not fit for consumption not only for those who get it from the leaking areas but also those with water taps at their homes,” he notes stressing that germs and bacteria get through the leaking areas affecting the whole lot supplied to the rest of the people. Water does not only gush out of the damaged pipelines. It can also be sucked in. A 2015 study by engineers at the University of Sheffield in UK found that underground water from areas around damaged pipes can be sucked in a leaking pipe whenever pressure drops in a damaged section of the pipe. Such water sucked into the pipe easily flows to people’s taps.

And if it contains contaminants – which is highly likely, its consumers risk suffering from waterborne diseases. Contaminated water can cause diseases such as cholera, typhoid, dysentery and diarrhorea. In particular, cholera and typhoid are common in Dar es Salaam d High-risk areas include those facing scarcity of clean water and sanitation. World Health Organization (WHO) report released in January 2018, indicated that 4985 cases and 99 deaths caused by cholera occurred in 2017 in Tanzania Mainland and Zanzibar. Dar es Salaam was mentioned among the regions that were affected.

Records by the ministry of health indicate that eight out of 458 cholera cases reported in November 2016 occurred in Dar es Salaam. Results from a water quality survey reveal that the cholera outbreak’s source was contaminated water from shallow and deep wells, including tap water. Poor hygienic practices and lack of sanitation facilities in poor households are additional factors. National and sub-national water authorities have been working to improve the quality and safety of the water supply in affected areas through chlorination, periodic monitoring of water quality and hygiene promotion.

Is the water authority aware of the leakages? The Director of Customers Operation of DAWASCO MrKiulaKingu, says that water leakages are one of the main challenges that face the authority in the process of supplying water to the public. “We have been facing the loss of water with the main reason being leakages through the water infrastructure,” he says without mentioning the amount of water lost due to the leakages. But records in indicate that over 50 percent of water leaks in Dar es Salaam.

Loss of such treated water is especially detrimental in a city that faces a shortage of safe water for all its dwellers. Some of the water leakages are a result of vandalism of water infrastructure including pipes as well as bursts due to high force of water as pumping goes on according to Kingu Currently, the water authority in Dar es Salaam provides water to some 220,000 residents in the city. And Kingu notes that the authority now plans to connect 400,000 new residents to water supply by June 2018. “We have massive water projects aimed at improving safe water in Dar es Salaam and getting rid of leaking pipes,” he says.

Deputy Minister for Water and Irrigation, Jumaa Aweso says water leaks is an acceptable move, directing the water authority (DAWASCO) in Dar es Salaam to do all the means and end the leakages. “Water leakages is one among the main tasks that we as the Ministry has directed DAWASCO to end it immediately as a way of preserving water to enable citizens currently have no access be able to receive clean and safe water,” he says adding that currently the country loses 40 per cent of water exceeding the International requirements.

“The amount of water we are losing is very high and is intolerable because the lose also is a burden to those who have an access as they have to undergo the costs for the water that is leaking,” he adds. Early detection and repair remains the major solution to water leaks worldwide. This report on dangers of water leaks in Dar es Salaam by Anne Robi was made possible thanks to support from InfoNile and Code for Africa.

CHINA-TANZANIA relationship is alive, well ...

Author: Anne Robi

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