Water Users Association as are frontline soldiers for water security and equity
To assure there is water security and equal sharing of this important resource, WWF Tanzania through its Freshwater programme together with GIZ Tanzania in collaboration with the Ministry of Water and Irrigation (MoWI) initiated a two days’ workshop to facilitate the WUA learning exchange workshop which held in Morogoro. The workshop aimed at learning together on how best to improve WUAs performance on maintaining and protecting water sources.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the workshop, Mrs. Praxeda Paul Kalugendo, Acting Assistant Director of Water Resources (Protection and Environment), said that.
“The ministry knows the importance of proper management of water resources (catchment and sub catchment areas) and it strongly supports the works of WUAs. With my representation here I expect to see we all fulfil the objectives of this meeting as planned to come up with issues and areas that will support the development of operational guideline and reviewing the existing WUA formation guideline for proper management of water resources management.”
Adding to that; The water reforms in Tanzania have resulted into the National Water Policy 2002 (NAWAPO), the National Water Sector Development Strategy (WSDS) 2006-2015, the Water Resources Management Act No. 11, 2009 and the Water Supply and Sanitation Act No.12 of 2009.
Also, the new institutional framework has emerged as a result of the reforms which put the participation of water users at the forefront in the management of the water resources. It is expected that effective participation of water users will enhance accountability and decision making closer to the people and ensure that planning, priority setting and service delivery are responsive to the local needs.
Increased environmental degradation and pollution of water sources is further projected to reduce water availability thereby escalating the already existing conflicts between sectors and different users such as between hydropower and irrigators, pastoralists and irrigators, agriculture and the environment and between sectors themselves. In these circumstances Water Users Associations (WUAs) become critical water management institutions. In the interest of implementing the policy even prior to enactment of the Water Resources Management Act, some Water Users Associations (WUAs) have been formed in the nine water basins across Tanzania. The process has been facilitated by Basin Water Boards, NGOs and other actors, adopting different approaches which have sometimes not been compatible with each other in terms of the approaches and the messages sent to the communities.
On the other hand, WWF's Freshwater Programme Coordinator, Mr. Christian Chonya, has described the workshop objectives as:
"To have an open discussion on the issues related to improving performance of WUAs. That WUAs are facing a lot of challenges, including political challenge, where politicians prevent WUAs from doing their conservational work. This is because politicians are protecting their voters, and therefore jeopardizing the environment. WWF Tanzania would like to provide major technical backstopping to WUAs on the best ways to implement their daily activities to secure water resources and recovering for the ones that were in bad condition. Through the WUAs meeting, lessons and proposed solution captured. WWF in collaboration with other developing partners will support MoWI to review the WUAs formation guidelines and develop the Operation guidelines.”
The meeting was aimed at strengthening effective communication, effective reporting among WUAs themselves and other stakeholders, sharing experiences on the community environmental award scheme which was applied in the Great Ruaha River (GRR) as mechanism for sustaining WUAs (in doing conservation projects in their areas of their jurisdictions). This WUAs exchange meeting also was a good forum for sharing the WUA assessment tool as per developed by WARIDI project in Tanzania.” Mr. Chonya added.
Furthermore, Mr. Evergris Makfura, Community Development Officer of the Ruaha Water Programme and CARE – WWF Alliance project in Iringa, emphasized the contribution made by the WWF in environmental conservation and water sources protections.
“We are working closely in partnership with various stakeholders through directly involving them and citizens at large in environmental conservation and protections of water sources. We work in collaboration with the Rufiji Basin Water Board, Regional and local government offices in protecting water sources through planting water friendly trees, water quantity and quality measurements, demarcating water sources, training of river, technical and financial support for land use planning, translating to layman language the Integrated Water Resources Management and development Plan (IWRMD) for Great Ruaha Catchment and supported the construction of cattle troughs. He added that, WWF has been a main custodian of developing different mechanisms for improving performance of WUAs and enhance its sustainability in doing their conservation initiatives on the ground. He gave an example of Community Environmental Award Scheme which enabled WUAs to get awards annually and hence motivate them in water sources protection, control and regulation of water abstraction and provision of education and awareness in environmental conservation.
Contributing at the workshop, Mr. Rajabu Juma Kadege, chairman of the Water Users Association (WUAs) in Lyandembera river at Mufindi district in Iringa Region (LYAMUF – WUA) expressed his comments by saying that they are grateful for the WUAs award competition programme sponsored by the Ruaha National Park (RUNAPA) in collaboration with other stakeholders. The RUNAPA award aimed at motivating different stakeholders, WUAs and individuals on water sources protection.
"Thanks to this award and the funding we have received from RUNAPA. We have been able to start building our own office and the improvement of water sources is our main focus. We have won over the competition in every year, for example, our association maintains 217 water sources, but so far only 50 sources of these have been improved including sources of Lyambungu, Muvengi, Kinego and many others which pour its water into the Lyandembere River.. He said
Mr. Kadege added by pointing out that, in 2017 his association participated in the RUNAPA award scheme and won. The association ranked the first and awarded 2 million Tanzanian shillings. The funds used to buy land and started building their own office. He is expecting to win in the next years, so as they use the awarded fund plus members’ contribution to finish their office.
Also on his part, Mr. Richard Laizer, chairman of the Water Users Association at Ngarenanyuki, Arumeru District in Arusha (internal drainage Basin) said: -
"The challenges were many before the protection of water sources at one of the water source at Ngarenanyuki, the water sources attracted two tribes of Meru and the Maasai, who are now living near the protected water sources because are assured with water supply’’
However, the biggest challenges was opposition from the politicians who strongly opposed our campaign of water sources protection. They persuaded the citizens not to support our initiatives of water source protection. Due to the awareness, most of the community have refused to follow up the politicians persuasion and decided together to cooperate with the Association in order to protect the water sources. We have a large campaign at Ngarenanyuki, we have organized youth forces that set a good defense for the Meru Mountains to protect streams and other water sources.”
Laizer added that, his community has also achieved a lot by setting up By-Laws whereby any citizen enters at a water source to perform any human activity including cutting grasses, trees or cultivating The penalty will be seizure of cattle and/or paying cash of about 500,000 shillings instantly. Furthermore, there are young people who catch the livestock entering in the water sources are slaughtered and eaten he confirmed that approach has been successful in managing such water sources.
Also, he gave many thanks to the Ngarenanyuki Sub-Basin management for being closer to them through providing necessary support like technical and financial support like Environmental friendly trees.
The WWF freshwater programme has secured funds from WWF Sweden for providing capacity building to WUAs particularly in the areas of data collection, management and sharing. The programme used part of the funds to facilitate the WUA learning group (WLG) and WUA Exchange Meeting.
Ministry of Water and Irrigation (MoWI) through the Technical Working Group 1 (TWG1) under the Water Sector Development Programme (WSDP) endorsed the idea of the establishment of WUA Learning Group, which aimed at learning from previous work, which will led to review the WUA formation and development operational guidelines. WWF in collaboration with other Developing partners believes that, all these efforts will improve WUAs performance across the Country and hence ensure current and future water security.