Zanzibar celebrates safe rural water with the African Development Bank

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The President of Zanzibar, on his tour of the island archipelago, has praised the Isles Ministry for the improvements to the lives of the islanders, made possible by the African Development Bank’s Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Initiative (RWSSI) program.

Zanzibar President Ali Mohamed Shein was speaking at the inauguration of the Water and Environment Conservation Project in Taifa village, Wete District, on North Pemba Island on August 25. Thanks to the Bank-funding project, 76 per cent of Zanzibar islanders, the vast majority of whom live in rural areas, now have access to safe water.

In the first half of 2015, the AfDB completed its second five-year program to improve water and sanitation conditions in Zanzibar. The US $54-million program was largely financed by an African Development Fund loan of over US $40 million and a grant of almost US $5 million from the AfDB’s RWSSI Trust Fund. The Government of Tanzania and UN-HABITAT, the United Nations Human Settlements Programme, also supported the Zanzibar initiative for improved water and sanitation. 

The Zanzibar water and sanitation program supported the construction of 9 rural water supply schemes in the regions of Unguja and Pemba. Thanks to the project, 64 new boreholes and 24 rainwater harvesting points now serve the villages in these regions, providing access to safe water to schools in those areas. No fewer than 125,000 school children have benefited from the new facilities.

In order to promote sustainability, the program has also given rise to an integrated Water Resources Management Plan. In this context, the AfDB has provided institutional development support in the form of capacity-building for the Zanzibar Water Authority (ZAWA). Operational initiatives include support to ZAWA to initiate a leak detection and repair program.

“We are proud of this Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Initiative achievement and committed to providing hands-on support to Zanzibar’s rural communities from our staff in the Tanzania Field Office,” said Mohamed El Azizi, Director of the AfDB Water and Sanitation Department.

The share of rural water and sanitation programs now accounts for over 40% of the AfDB’s total active water and sanitation portfolio, underlining the strategic importance of socio-economic development in rural areas.


The Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Initiative (RWSSI) is hosted by the African Development Bank (AfDB). It is a regional framework for mobilizing partners, knowledge and investments needed to improve rural water supply and sanitation facilities across Africa. Since 2003, the AfDB has approved 49 rural water supply and sanitation operations in 33 countries. These have already contributed to improved access to drinking water for an estimated 97 million people and improved sanitation for an estimated 70 million people.