Moshi water security

Posted on 11 November 2015

The cleanest town in East Africa

The cleanest town in East Africa

Delivering clean, safe and affordable water to more than 95% of its residents, and pioneering Water Safety Plans (WSP) in Tanzania, Moshi stands out in a country that for decades has struggled to improve its water management. Moshi has also repeatedly won the title as the cleanest municipality in Tanzania. In 2015 it participated in the Earth Hour City Challenge  in 2015 together with its Tanzanian counterparts Arusha and Dar es Salaam.
Moshi was awarded the title Global Earth Hour Capital in Earth Hour City Challenge 2015
Keywords: water management, Water Safety Plans, solid waste, UWSA, stakeholder participation
Moshi is a medium-sized town with almost 200,000 citizens, located on the southern slopes of Kilimanjaro. The citys location provides it with more fresh running water than most Tanzanian cities, but also increases flood risks during the rainy season, an environmental hazard exacerbated by deforestation (see also Mexico City).

Autonomous water management
After a long deterioration of the water service, the Moshi Water Supply Rehabilitation Project was launched in 1995 as a part of a wider Tanzanian pilot program with German support to test a model of semi-autonomous, commercially viable urban water utilities. In 1998, the Moshi Urban Water and Sewerage Authority (MUWSA), was established as one of the first autonomous "Urban Water and Sewerage Authorities" (UWSAs) when Tanzania started to decentralize its water management system in the late 1990s. MUWSA is a fully autonomous but government owned organization with tariff-setting powers responsible for provision of clean and safe water, and collection and disposal of wastewater. It is supervised by a board appointed by the Tanzanian government but also nominated by local authorities and stakeholder groups. MUWSA operates as a commercially run organization that works closely to its consumers.

Since MUWSA was formed, it has transformed an aged infrastructure with a low number of household connections and frequent interruptions to a system that delivers clean, safe and affordable water to more than 95% of its residents, almost 24 hours a day. It has improved its efficiency, reduced water leakage, increased the number of paying customers, and as a result improved its economy. MUWSA has also built a sewerage network serving around 30% of the population, far higher than other Tanzanian cities. The remaining population uses onsite sanitation - pit latrines and septic tank systems.

Tanzania's water programs
The new MUWSA Managing Director, Cyprian Luhemeja has promised further improvements, including uninterrupted service, reduced water leakage and an increase in water supply and paying customers. In 2012, MUWSA was the first Tanzanian water supply utility to develop and implement a Water Safety Plan (WSP), a form of water quality assurance system through a multi-barrier concept, which has to date primarily been used in developed countries (see also Singapore).

The success of MUWSA and the other early UWSAs (in Arusha and Tanga) encouraged the Tanzanian government to use the model for all regional capitals and as a further step, in smaller district towns as well. But despite ambitious and equitable plans, and generous funding from donors including the African Development Bank, the European Commission, Germany, the Netherlands and the World Bank, the Tanzanian water program has had mixed success, with many setbacks. While bringing access to an improved water source to an additional 8 million people in rural areas in 7 years, the share of Tanzanians with access to an improved water source has decreased in the same time from 54% to 53% due to population increase, according to World Bank figures. The next phase of the program is now starting, with new accountability measures and the goals of a 95% urban and 65% rural coverage.

Cleanest town in Tanzania
Moshi is also sometimes called the cleanest town in East Africa, repeatedly winning the title as the cleanest municipality in Tanzania. The city fines littering, and solid waste management was introduced as a mandatory service already in the 1950s. Since 1999 it has a stakeholder platform for its waste management system, comprised of the municipality, a private contractor and community based organizations. It collects around 60% of waste, while 20% is composted.

Moshi has started to work with projects to use waste as a resource (see also Curitiba). One example is the Mabogini Irrigation Project that uses refined sewage (see also Hyderabad). Another is biogas production from bio-latrines, cow-sheds and piggeries, replacing firewood as cooking fuel in a school. And Moshi has started developing waste to energy projects such as a recycling and biogas plant, as well as other renewable energy projects.

Moshi has also been successful in recent years in protecting its most important natural resource  forests on the slopes of Kilimanjaro. In 2012 it adopted a stakeholders' proposal, limiting permits to cut trees and transport forest products even from privately owned land. And over the last years the regional authorities have planted more than 10 million trees to restore the damaged environment.

Moshi Urban Water Supply and Sanitation Authority, Case Study on Water Safety Plans Implementation, Benefits and Challenges, 2012,

German development cooperation in Tanzania, Water for Life  Lessons learnt from 15 years of German Development Cooperation in the Kilimanjaro Region, 2007,

AllAfrica, Tanzania: Moshi Water Board Embarks On Expansion Programme, 24 March 2014,

Global Post, The World Bank's water failure in Tanzania, November 20 2014,

The World Bank, How Tanzania Plans To Achieve "Big Results Now" in Education, July 14 2014,

UN Habitat, Solid Waste Management in the World�s Cities, 2010,

UN Habitat, UNEP, The Sustainable Cities Programme in Tanzania 1992-2003, October 2004,

carbonn Climate Registry, City Climate Report: Moshi Municipal Council,

Text by: Martin Jacobson