Clean and Safe? Water, sanitation and hygiene in Tanzania

It appears there have not been large changes in the level of access to water, particularly in rural areas, over the past ten years. Although there are multiple datasets to compare, only two – which are strongly related – show a consistent improvement in recent years.

  • Sauti za Wananchi shows access to water in rural areas at 55% in 2014 and 46% in 2016
  • The National Bureau of Statistics shows access varying between 40% and 50% over the ten years with nine out of ten surveys showing data within this range
  • For the same period, the Ministry of Water has reported higher access, at between 50% and 60%
  • Figures for Big Results Now report a rapid increase in access from 40% in 2013 to 67% in 2015

These findings were released by Twaweza in a research brief titled Clean and Safe? Water, sanitation and hygiene. The brief is based on data from Sauti za Wananchi, Africa’s first nationally representative high-frequency mobile phone survey. The findings are based on data collected from 1,808 respondents across Mainland Tanzania (Zanzibar is not covered in these results) in October 2016.

The findings also show that urban and rural areas face different yet similar challenges in accessing water. Irregular supply (rural: 28%, urban: 37%) and an insufficient number of water points (rural: 35%, urban: 26%) are among the most common problems in both rural and urban areas. The top three challenges in rural areas are distance to water point (39%), insufficient number of water points (35%) and dirty water (32%) while the top three challenges in urban areas are irregular supply (37%), water cost (27%) and insufficient number of water points (26%).

MPs are put on notice about citizens’ water needs. A total of 7 out of 10 citizens (69%) remember that their MP promised the community a water project during the last election campaigns. However, 3 out of 4 (75%) say that none of these commitments have been implemented, while 23% concede that some of them have been implemented.

On the other hand, handwashing with soap is an important element of hygiene practice. When asked to name an activity after which they washed their hands in the last 24 hours, 8 out of 10 citizens (81%) did so after using the toilet, and 4 out of 10 (36%) before eating. However far fewer citizens mentioned washing their hands with soap before preparing food (10%), after cleaning a toilet (8%), after/while cleaning a child’s bottom (4%) or before feeding a child (2%).

Sauti za Wananchi also established whether citizens participated in public cleaning activities as directed by the President on Independence Day 2015. Almost all citizens (93%) reported that they participated and furthermore, 7 out of 10 (72%) report that there are ongoing cleaning activities / days in their communities. Ongoing designated cleaning days are more common in urban areas (87%) than rural areas (64%).

Read more: Maji Tanzania



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