[email protected]: Evolution of the water sector management in Tanzania

Tuesday September 28 2021
By The Citizen Reporter

Dar es Salaam. At independence on December 9, 1961, the new government found the water sector in a precarious state. Water supply had never been a priority to colonialists such that at independence the ministry for Water did not exist.

It took nine years for water to have its own ministry. In November 5, 1970, the ministry of Water and Power was created.

In addition to water supply management, the ministry was also given the duty of overseeing hydro-electricity dams in the country, according to the information from the ministry of Water.

Throughout its history, the water sector has been bundled and re-bundled in various ministries that have included other portfolios such as energy, minerals, livestock, etc.

Since independence the Water sector has been under 20 ministries.

In December 1961, the Water sector was in the ministry of Agriculture. The minister was Derek Bryeson; in 1964 the Water sector was shifted to a new ministry of Land, Human Settlement and Water Development with Tewa S. Tewa as the minister. In 1966 the ministry got a new minister Said A. Maswanya, who lasted till 1968. The Permanent Secretary in the ministry (between July 1965 and December 1967) was Cleopa D. Msuya.


Later in his political career, Mr Msuya rose to become the Prime Minister of Tanzania. Adulrahman M. Babu became the minister from 1968 to 1970.

In late 1970, the ministry was for the first time constituted as a fully fledged ministry for Water and was named the ministry for Water and Power. Dr Wilbard K. Chagula was appointed the minister till 1974 when Mr I. Elinawinga took his place. In 1976 the Minerals portfolio was added to the ministry and Dr Chagula was returned as the minister (1976-1978).

At this juncture it was called the ministry of Water, Electricity and Minerals. Since 1971 till 1978 the Permanent Secretary was Mr Frederick Rwegarulila. In 1978 the Electricity Department was expanded to include Energy in its totality and the ministry was therefore renamed the ministry of Water, Energy and Minerals. At that point Mr Elinawinga took over and stayed till 1982. His Permanent Secretary was Harieth B. Mwapachu.

From 1982 till 1985 the minister was Al Noor Kassum. When President Ali Hassan Mwinyi became President he re-constituted the ministry as Land, Water, Housing and Urban Development with Dr Pius Ng’wandu as the minister.

In 1987 the ministry, for the first time, was constituted of only the Water portfolio. Dr Ng’wandu continued as the minister till 1990 when he passed the baton to Christian Kisanji. Mr Kisanji lasted only months before passing the baton to Lt-Col Jakaya Kikwete.

At this time, the ministry had again been renamed the ministry of Water, Energy and Minerals. The Permanent Secretary (between November 1990 and December 1992) was Prof Mark Mwandosya. In 1995 Jackson Makweta took over as minister.

In 1996, it renamed the ministry of Water, and Dr Ng’wandu returned as the minister, lasting till 1999. Mr Mussa Nkhangaa took over the ministry till 2001 when it was renamed Water and Livestock with Edward Lowassa as the minister. In 2005, Stephen Wassira took over what was now, again, the ministry of Water.

women pic

Women, men and children wait for their turn to draw water at a supply centre for domestic use. Photo | FILE

In 2007 Dr Shukuru Kawambwa became the minister for one year. In 2008 the Irrigation portfolio was added to the ministry with Prof Mwandosya as the minister. He lasted till 2012, but in 2011 the Irrigation portfolio was removed and taken to the Agriculture ministry. The Irrigation portfolio was taken back to the ministry of Water the following year in 2012.

Between 2012 and 2015 Prof Jumanne Maghembe was the minister. He was followed by Prof Makame Mbarawa (2015), Gerson Lwenge (2015-2017), Isaack Kamwelwe (2017-2018), Prof Makame Mbarawa (2018-2020) and Juma Aweso (2020-).

The rise and rise of water authorities

In recent years, Water Supply and Sanitation authorities have become the face of the water sector in Tanzania. These institutions, which are run like corporate entities and are in charge of supplying water and collecting bills from customers, have contributed significantly in improving water coverage, especially in urban areas and district headquarters.

However, the water authorities are a recent entrant in the water sector in Tanzania. Water authorities were introduced in Tanzania in the early 1980s.

The first water authority to be established in Tanzania was Nuwa. The National Urban Water Authority (Nuwa) was established in 1981 to manage water supplies in urban areas in the mainland. It became operational in 1984, according to a historical account published by Dawasa. Because of various challenges, however, Nuwa failed in its task and was disbanded but remained maintaining water supplies in Dar es Salaam city only.

Countrywide, regional water engineers continued to manage water supply services in their respective towns and regional and district headquarters as they did before the establishment of Nuwa.

Regional water engineers’ offices continued to manage water supplies till early 1990s when urban water supply and sanitation departments were formed. In 1997 Water Supply and Sanitation Authorities (WSSAs) started being established by the Water Works Act no 8 of 1997. The establishment of these authorities was based on a survey conducted by the ministry of Water in 1992 which was meant to establish the best way to provide water services to urban areas, the Water Sector Status Report 2020 indicates.

The study suggested the establishment of autonomous entities that were self-reliant was crucial.

By June 2019, a total of 98 authorities at district and townships headquarters had been formed. Among these were regional authorities were 25. These have been responsible for water supply in regional headquarters and nearby villages and townships.

They include Arusha (Auwsa), Dar es Salaam (Dawasa), Dodoma (Duwasa), Geita (Geuwasa), Iringa (Ruwasa), Kagera (Buwasa), Katavi (MpandaUwasa), Kigoma (Kuwasa), Kilimanjaro (Muwsa), Lindi (Luwasa), Manyara (Bawasa), Mara (Muwasa), Mbeya (MbeyaUwssa), Morogoro (Moruwasa), Mtwara (Mtuwasa), Mwanza (Mwauwasa), Njombe (Njuwasa), Rukwa (SumbawangaUwasa), Ruvuma (Souwasa), Shinyanga (Shuwasa), Simiyu (Bawasa), Singida (Suwasa), Songwe (Vwawa – Mlowo), Tabora (Tuwasa), Tanga (TangaUwassa).

A few years after their formation at about half of the 98 authorities, especially from small towns and district headquarters, fell under mismanagement and led to constant water shortage in their jurisdictions. They were subsequently cancelled.

These included MonduliWssa, LongidoWssa, ChamwinoWssa, KongwaWssa, Same Wssa, MwangaWssa, GallapoWssa, DaredaWssa, BashnetWssa, MaguguWssa, MikumiWssa, KyelaWssa, KasumuluWssa, KilosaWssa, NanyambaWssa, and MangakaWssa.

Others include TandahimbaWssa, NewalaWssa, IsakaWssa, MaguWssa, NansioWssa, NguduWssa, KibahaWssa...

KisaraweWssa, MkurangaWssa, BagamoyoWssa, IselamagaziWssa, TindeWssa, DidiaWssa, and LalagoWssa. And yet others includeSangamwalugeshaWssa, MalampakaWssa, IsikizyaWssa, SikongeWssa, UramboWssa, MuhezaWssa, PanganiWssa, MisungwiWssa, and ManyoniWssa.Service areas of the cancelled Wssa are managed by regional Wssas.

Since their formation water and sanitation authorities were being managed under the ministerial supervision of the Regional Authority and Local Governments portfolio that was previously in the Prime Ministers’ Office and then shifted to the President’s Office. But the Water Supply and Sanitation Act No. 5 of 2019 made reforms.

Water sector functions and responsibilities including accountability of officers responsible for water service provisions were transferred from President’s Office, Regional Administration and Local Government Authorities (PO-RALG) to the Ministry of Water.

Moreover, the responsibility to supervise water service provision in 24 water and sanitation authorities, and 55 towns in district headquarters and local government authorities which did not have water and sanitation authorities have been placed under the newly created Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency (Ruwasa).

The regulation of water and sanitation authorities is conducted by the Energy and Water Utilities Regulatory Authority (Ewura) since 2006. Currently, Ewura regulates 94 water and sanitation authorities, which provide water supply and sanitation services at regional and district headquarters, township and national projects water authorities.

For its part, the ministry of Water regulates community-based water supply organisations through Ruwasa.