Women on the front line in Protecting water sources in Southern Tanzania
In most of the areas of rural Tanzania, it is usually women who are responsible for the collection and provision of water for their respective households and families. Water sources are often some distance away from houses, and sometimes with very little water that women have to wait for a long time to get the water, so collection is often time consuming and a grueling task. Girls and younger women may also be expected to share some responsibility in water collection, meaning time for their education can sometimes be compromised.
The quality of available drinking water is often of a poor standard, and can be cloudy, salty, dirty or unsafe. The quantity of water in the village is also very seasonal depending on the rain seasons. This usually leads to women walking even longer distances to the water sources with available water.
One may wonder why this problem especially in Tanzania? There is plenty of water sources, rains are always there during the seasons, sometimes even two seasons in a year!
Water scarcity is often blamed on climate change and lack of environmental conservation education among the water users.
WWF Tanzania Country office through its Ruaha Freshwater Programme has worked with and empowered communities including water users Associations. More than 10 WUAs in Iringa, Njombe and Mbeya regions have been trained in water resource use and management. The programme is witnessing more than it was expected even after phased out in December 2017.
Meet Conjesta Paul Motela; one of the beneficiaries of trainings in the management of water sources. Her story is really inspiring.
‘I was invited to the workshops facilitated by WWF representing women in my village. I heard people speaking about water sources protection and the difficulties others face because of shortage of water’. Says Conjesta. She narrates that not being a leader she couldn’t share back the vast knowledge she had received. ‘I really wanted to put it into practise, when I got home an idea started forming in my head. There is a water source just behind my house and no one was tending it although everyone used it especially during dry seasons because it had water throughout the year although in very small quantities. I shared the idea with my husband and together we decided to take care of the source. I wanted our community leaders and other villagers to be sure of the availability of water and learn how to protect other water sources in our village. I started planting water friendly trees around the source and removed water thirsty trees, I fenced the area of about one acre around the source and today water has really increased and it is a life saver especially for my fellow women who are always struggling to get water. Many people from other villages come here to learn from me. I am so glad and thankful that I was given this opportunity to attend the workshops and acquire the knowledge. I wish village leaders will take water source protection seriously; this will solve water scarcity permanently. If I could make it, how much more can we save if the whole village took part?’
WWF works with communities in conservation to protect nature. Thus the program has strived to ensure that conservation is people centered. The Programme’s conservation targets focused on the environmental conservation for improving people’s livelihood and nature. Thus, effective community participation and involvement in the conservation interventions (water resources management, wildlife management, land use plan, planting trees, and water sources protections) is the key area for sustainable conservation and poverty reduction among the communities in the catchments and sub-catchments.