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Water stress could disturb Tanzania’s
growth and poverty reduction efforts: WB

DAR ES SALAAM (Xinhua) -- A new report launched by the World Bank on Monday said in Tanzania water scarcity could derail the east African nation’s growth and poverty reduction efforts.

“Tanzania needs to urgently improve the management of its water if it is to avoid its water resources becoming a brake on its development progress,” said the report launched in Tanzania’s commercial capital, Dar es Salaam.

The World Bank’s 10th Tanzania Economic Update said against the rapidly expanding economy and population, renewable per capita freshwater resources dropped over the past 25 years from more than 3,000 cubic meters per person to around 1,600 today.

“The decline, which is driven by increasing demand for a finite resource, will likely continue and reach around 1,400 cubic meters per person by 2025, well below the 1,700-cubic meter per person threshold that defines water stressed countries,” said the report.

“There is now a compelling need for the government and all stakeholders to manage this finite resource better,” said Bella Bird, World Bank country director for Tanzania, Malawi, Somalia and Burundi.

“Tanzania’s development ambitions are dependent on water, just as much as on other factors like education, health, transportation, energy, and finance,” Bird said.

At present, the agriculture sector is using the vast majority of utilized water resources, accounting for around 89 percent of total use in Tanzania, against a global average of 70 percent, the report said.

In addition, the country’s manufacturing is dominated by agro-processing, which is also highly dependent on water, as is mining, tourism and energy generation.

The report, however, said Tanzania is making progress toward increasing household access to water supplies, with 63 percent of the population having access to basic and improved water supply services.

Droughts and floods have a major impact on Tanzania’s economy, with the extent of damage likely to increase with ongoing climate change.

The agricultural sector suffers an estimated 200 million U.S. dollars in average annual losses because of weather-related incidents, particularly drought.

The report recommends four key measures towards ensuring that this finite resource is well managed.

They included stronger coordination across sectors and prioritization of water-related investments; valuing and pricing water appropriately; investing in data collection and analysis to better equip water management bodies to make decisions; and clarifying and strengthening the roles of institutions responsible for water-resource management and ensuring they are properly resourced.

The Tanzania Economic Update is the World Bank’s flagship in-country report and is published twice a year.

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