Dar es Salaam hit by power, water rationing as rivers dry up


By BEATRICE MATERU

Residents of Dar es Salaam are bracing for hard times as the country’s commercial capital goes into power and water rationing blamed on low water volumes in rivers and dams following a drought. Declining water levels have affected hydroelectric stations of Kihansi, Kidatu and Pangani.

The Tanzania Electricity Supply Company (Tanesco) on Thursday issued an alert to its customers to reduce power usage as electricity production falls in its hydropower plants.

“As a result, the total production deficit is approximately 345 megawatts, which is equivalent to 21 percent of total production,” Tanesco said in a statement.

The power utility is now looking to natural gas to mitigate the crisis. Tanesco said it will increase production by hastening maintenance of its natural gas-plants at Ubungo, which produces about 25MW and by expanding Kinyerezi I (185 MW) and Ubungo III (112MW) power plants. It will also launch the Nyakato station which is expected to produce 36 MW.

“All these will have an additional of 358MW into national grid,” Tanesco said.

In a statement released on Thursday, the power utility said that due to climate change, the water level in the rivers and dams has decreased significantly.

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Last week, the Dar es Salaam Water and Sewerage Authority (Dawasa) announced water rationing for parts of the city, including Sinza, Tegeta, Mwananyamala, Kijitonyama, Manzese, Kariakoo, Tabata and Magomeni.

Across the city, long queues at water points have become a common sight.

“I do not remember the last time we had water running from the taps. We are forced to use salt water, buying from street vendors,” said Irene Lwaho, a resident of Sinza B in Dar es Salaam.

Before the crisis, a 20-litre jerrycan of water was sold at $0.08, but the price has since doubled to $0.16.

Water supply in Dar stands at 460 million cubic litres a day from 520 million cubic litres last year, and against a daily demand of 544 million cubic litres.

Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa has asked Dawasa to find out how the situation deteriorated to the current level.

“I know there is climate change but that’s just one of the factors that have caused an acute shortage of water,” he said during his tour in Ruvu River, main supplier station for Dar

Dawas CEO has asked Dar residents to save water by stopping watering their flower gardens during the rationing period.

Speaking to The EastAfrican, Dickson Alex, a driver and resident of Iringa region, said there was an acute shortage of water in water sources even in the southern highlands, speaking to the extent of the drought situation.

The dire situation has prompted the Law and Human Rights Center (LHRC) to call on the government to take short and long-term measures to mitigate the situation.

In a statement released late on Thursday, the LHRC reminds the government of its responsibility to provide and give access to clean and safe water to citizens according to the Constitution; and take appropriate action against all persons who will be found to have failed to fulfil their responsibilities in this regard.  

The LHRC urged the government to adopt eight strategies to ensure sufficient supply of water, including digging deep wells, monitoring water sources and taking effective measures to ensure they work efficiently.

In addition, it should allocate a sufficient budget for water harvesting projects. The water can be used during days of scarcity, the group said.

The State should also take action against people who fail to fulfil their responsibilities with regard to supply of water, it added.

The LHRC also suggested that the government look into constructing large reservoirs as a long-term measure to prevent shortage in future.

The government should also establish policies to control environmental degradation and protect water resources, it said, adding that the State should also engage experts on long-term measures to ensure clean and safe water in the country.

For almost a month, Dar residents have experienced water rationing with the water authority citing a drop in the water levels in Tanzania’s main water basin stations, including River Ruvu.

Water shortage has continued to have economic implications for traders and put in jeopardy residents’ health and safety, especially in the era of the Covid pandemic.

“It is a fact that the lack of water continues to plague children and women. Women are walking long distances to fetch water even at night. This situation exacerbates acts of violence against women and children by exacerbating family conflicts,” says Anna Henga, the executive director of LHRC.



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