By: Mohammed Hammie
Between September 2 and September 9 2019, MACS- Media for Community Empowerment aired two radio programs at Voice of Africa Radio in the Tanzania’s Tanga Region.
Media for Community Empowerment, a non-governmental organization dedicated to using community radio and other media to amplify the voices of everyday citizens and improve government accountability, produced the radio programs for their flagship program, Sauti Yangu (My Voice). Sauti Yangu’s programs help rural Tanzanians speak out about challenges with local issues like water access and call for government response.
MeCE visited villagers who walked up to 5 km to access water that was often dirty, diseased, or dangerous to access because government water sources were broken or unavailable. In many cases, villagers left with no choice but to pay for overpriced water by private water providers.
Two weeks after airing the radio show in Tanga Region, the Tanzanian Ministry of Water announced a fund worth 500 USD Million for solving water challenges in Korogwe, Handeni, Muheza, and Pangani Districts. The project is expected to benefit six hundred thousand citizens who are currently using water resource from Pangani River.
MeCE requested residents of Korogwe district to text or call a special number that was broadcasted in an advert at Voice of Africa Radio station regarding water shortages in their village.
After running the advert for one week, they were overwhelmed by the responses, including 270 text messages. After removing messages that did not convincingly demonstrate evidence of a chronic water crisis, MeCE identified 176 messages that indicated the need to improve water governance.
One of the villages that MeCE journalist visited was Mswaha, where we talked to the citizens and the village chairperson.
Case Study Interview from Sauti Yangu in Korogwe District at Mswaha Village with the Chairperson:
Chairperson: My name is Ibrahim Musa. I’m a village chairman in Mswaha
Mohammed: Would you please give us a short history about water challenge in your area?
Chairperson: Water challenge is critical in our area, we are depending on water from Pangani River for so long. We had “mdindiko” water well when we were so young, it was constructed by a certain institution that funded it, but it didn’t last, it collapsed after 10 years. Our parents were not able to repair it. We now depend on water from Pangani River. Though it affect us so much, we get diseases such as diarrhoea, and typhoid. When you hear Cholera has erupted in Korogwe they would tell you it has been caused by using water from Pangani River in our village.
Another challenge in the use of Pangani river water, is the presence of crocodiles. In 2016 a young man’s hand and leg were bit by a crocodile. And the same year, an old man was bit when he was fetching water. His leg was eaten by a crocodile, now he is walking on one leg, he is crippled.
But in 2017, a woman was taken and eaten by a crocodile. She was lost, we later came to find her hand palm. In 2017, in our neighbour’s village in Mwenga, a young man was also eaten by a crocodile. The water challenges from Pangani River is very chaotic in our area.
A man whose leg was bit by a crocodile when he was fetching water at Mswaha village, Tanga region.
While speaking with journalists, the Deputy Minister of Water honourable Jumaa Aweso said “The government realizes the challenges of water in rural areas especially in the districts of Korogwe, Muheza, Handeni and Pangani. We have got fund from the Indian government worth 500 million USD and we are allocating this fund to these four districts. It is my hope that when this project is done, many villagers will benefits from availability of water, people from Mswaha village, we heard your cries and the government is now taking action”
Other villages in Korogwe District that will be benefit from the project are Mswaha Majengo, Mafleta, Mswaha Darajani, Mwenga, Tabora, Maurui Rutuba. Other villages that will benefit from the project are Mgombezi, Kitifu, Mgambo, Kwakombo, Kwamsisi, Mtonga, Magunga, Majengo, Old Korogwe, Kilole, Bagamoyo, Masuguru and all streets of Manundu ward. MeCE believes more actions from the government will be taken because initially the first focus was in Morogoro and Tanga.
We will soon broadcast more radio programs from other regions such as Mtwara, Arusha, Dodoma and Mara. We believe that Sauti Yangu’s unique approach has the power to amplify the voices of rural citizens and hold the government accountable for solving the water crisis.