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Zanzibar Water and Sanitation Project: Improving lives in rural communities

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AfDB Water and Sanitation Director, Mohamed El Azizi, visiting a beneficiary’s livestock keeping farm in Zanzibar.

“I no longer need to waste hours fetching water. I have more time to help my husband with our cattle – which was quite difficult without access to clean water. It’s such a relief,” Zuena, a farmer from Machui, said of the African Development Bank’s Zanzibar Water and Sanitation Project, completed in 2015. Her household recently benefited from the Machui project. “It has changed our lives,” she said. 

“Your testimony provides us with further incentive to continue supporting the efforts of your country in providing safe and reliable water and sanitation services to the population of Zanzibar,” responded Mohamed El Azizi, Director of the AfDB’s Water and Sanitation Department, while visiting the Zanzibar Water and Sanitation Project.

The project’s positive effects were confirmed by all the beneficiaries encountered during the project site visit. All of them confirmed the reduced burden of fetching water from long distances, freeing time for women to engage in other productive activities, as evidenced by Zuena’s story.

The project has provided a boost to entrepreneurial activities such as healthier livestock thanks to improved access to water supplies from the project. “My cows are producing more milk now. I have more money for my family,” said Maida, a farmer in the same region, Machui.

Other socio-economic activities such as vegetable farming have also benefited from the project.

Fatma, a teacher at Mgenihaji School, has witnessed all the improvements brought by the project. “Before the new sanitation facilities were constructed, teachers and students in the primary school and a nearby nursery school had significant problems with regard to sanitation facilities,” she said.

The project also took into account specific needs of the target groups. At Mgenihaji School, Maimuna, a disabled student, explained the benefits from user-friendly sanitation facilities installed under the project, for which she expressed much appreciation.

The Water and Sanitation Project in Zanzibar was supported by a loan from the African Development Fund and a grant from the Bank’s Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Initiative to the tune of US $54 million, alongside contributions from the Government of Zanzibar and UN-Habitat.

The project, which was completed in 2015, comprised the construction of nine rural water supply schemes in the islands of Unguja and Pemba. It also included the rehabilitation and extension of urban water supply systems in the three townships of Chake Chake, Wete and Mkoani on Pemba Island. It has also seen the construction of school water and sanitation facilities in Unguja and Pemba, as well as rainwater harvesting systems. It has financed the development of an integrated water resources management action plan and funded institutional development and capacity building support to the Zanzibar Water Authority (ZAWA), the agency responsible for the provision of water services in Zanzibar.

While acknowledging the ownership and commitment shown by the Government of Zanzibar and ZAWA in implementing water projects, Mohamed El Azizi reiterated AfDB’s commitment to better serve the country. “We are proud of the project achievements and committed to providing hands-on support to the AfDB-supported water operations in Zanzibar through our Resident Representative in Tanzania and our water experts in our country office,” he said.

A new AfDB-supported operation aimed at improving water and sanitation services in Zanzibar municipality is currently in progress and will include interventions in Zanzibar Stone Town, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Centre with socio-economic and touristic significance.

The Director’s visit to the water project in Zanzibar was undertaken on sidelines of the 6th African Water Week, held in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, from July 18-22, 2016, under the theme of achieving Sustainable Development Goals on Water Security and Sanitation. “Clean, accessible water for all is an essential part of the world we want to live in,” said El Azizi.

Due to poor financing or poor infrastructure, every year, many Africans, most of them children, die from diseases associated with inadequate water supply, sanitation and hygiene. For this reason, water and sanitation are at the heart of the African Development Bank’s operational priorities recently approved by its Board of Directors – the High 5s for Africa: Light up and power Africa; Feed Africa; Industrialize Africa; Integrate Africa; and Improve the quality of life for the people of Africa. Since 2001, the Bank has approved nine water and sanitation operations in Tanzania mainland and Zanzibar at a total cost of about US $700 million.

According to El Azizi, water and sanitation will remain one of the key development challenges facing the communities and nations of Africa. Water and sanitation, he said, will have a direct impact on the economic growth and the attainment of most of the Sustainable Development Goals, the international targets that replaced the Millennium Development Goals in 2015.

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

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