Caught between a hard place and a rock

Caught between a hard place and a rock

Toilets are scarce and there are no  markets here in the hills." A trek down the hill for shopping is a necessity and  an inconvenience.  Chacha, a father of seven, adds, "The truth is that most  of the people who live here are low income earners, and under such circumstances very few of them for example, can afford to cover for example the expenses needed for  a power connection  to the Tanzania National  Electric Supply Company (Tanesco)." 

Another   resident in the same area, Ms Zainabu Ramadhani  28, says life in the hills is very tough.  Going up and down the hill and negotiating the jagged rocks is quite a task. “Some of our guests  have on several occasions fallen  down while trying to visit us here,   she laments.Zainabu and Chacha represent thousands of people who liveing in the hills surrounding Mwanza. 

Historically, the Mwanza was founded in 1892 by the Germany colonial regime  as a regional administrative and commercial centre to control the production and export of cotton  around Lake Victoria. In 1978 Mwanza obtained the status of municipality in line with the local government structure established in 1972. In 2000,  it was further promoted to city status. It now  comprises of  two districts, namely Nyamagana  and  Ilemela.The current  population of the city is approximately one milion people.

 Most of  the residents  who live in the densely populated hills are found in,  Nyanshana, Igogo, Kilimahewa, Mbugani, Mabatini and Isamilo areas. Officials say over   450,000 people live in the highly challenging residential  areas. A survey conducted by this paper found that a vast majority  of the people in the hills lack access to water, descent sewerage services and power supply. 

People have failed to build toilets due to the rocky nature of the soil.  In the mornings it is not unsual to find humn waste on the way side.Concerned residents are tired of suchirresponsible  behaviour as it may contribute to spread of diseases like cholera.  

Mabatini area in Nyamagana district is one of the densely populated areas in the city, and a significant number of the residents live in the hills."Many  hill  dwellers  can't afford to to construct modern  septic tanks for sewerage.Thus, they end up building shoddy waste  reservoirs,  and during the rainy season,  the reservoirs are opened up and all the waste goes downhill not sparing the people who live lower down the hill,"  claimed Mr Yusuph Bashiri.

Local observers say the deplorable environment in the area is not conducive and  it taints the image of one of the fastest growing cities in East Africa."Visitors to Mwanza by road from the Dar es Salaam come across with the Bajber Hills (Igogo area).This is one of the areas where the infrastrucuture needs help,"  says Mr Johson Mabuga.

Residents believe that the  government must do something to improve the infrastucture there."It is important for the govenment to assist the hill dwellers improve infrastructure," said a  ten-cell house leader, Mr Omary Suleimani.

Another local official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, called on the government to either provide funds to improve the infrastructure or  invite the  private sector to do so,"If you look at the Capri Point hill, for instance, there are good and descent houses with satisfactory level of  infrastructure.The areas is now very attractive because serious people have invested a lot in the areas," he said.

Mwanza Urban Water and Sewerage Authority (Mwauwasa) Assistant Public Relations Manager Robert Masunya says a French organisation, has already  conducted a feasibility  study aimed at providing support to introduce water and sewerage services for the people living in the hills. 

Preparations are underway  for the organisation in collaboraton with the Tanzania government to embark on a  multi-billion water and sewerage  project in the target areas. "I think with this project, many people living in the hills will have access to both clean water and sanitation services," he says. 

The Mwanza Urban Water and Sewerage Authority was established in 1996 under a Water Consultative Board as a semi autonomous authority. Its fundamental objective is to supply the city residents with clean and safe water as well as providing the sewerage network to the users.

Mr Masunya calls on other development partner to support government's  endeavour to provide clean water and sewerage systems, "The extension of our services to such areas means a lot of funds in terms of investments," he says. Mwauwasa's specific functions include abstraction and treatment of water, distribution of water to consumers in Mwanza city and its surrounding peri-urban centres, as well as managing the operations and maintenance of the production and distribution, liquid waste treatment and disposal. 




Author: DASSU STEPHEN in Mwanza

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