Urban population growth and accessibility to domestic water supply in Tanzania: a case study of Dar es Salaam city

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University of Dar es Salaam
This study aims at investigating the impact of rapid urban population growth on the availability of domestic water in Dar es Salaam city. It also discusses the accessibility to water by different socio-economic groups as well as the effects of water problems on the public health and the management of the environment. The study involved 250 households in the low, medium, and high density/ squatter areas for the purpose of making comparison and came up with the following major findings: First, water availability for domestic purposes has greatly been affected by the explosion of urban population in Dar es Salaam city. The supply of domestic water does not match the rapid rate of growth of the urban population. This is evident where the daily water consumption per capita has been decreasing from 53 (35.3 percent) litres in 1985 to about 41.6 (27.7 percent) litres in 1995. Consequently, the gap between domestic water supply and demand has been growing and widening. Second, the accessibility to domestic water supply has a spatial variation within the city of Dar es Salaam, high income areas are well served while the low income areas usually of high-density population are poorly served. This has also led to variation in the consumption pattern between the rich and the poor. The consumption among residents in the high income area averages 63 litres per person daily while in the low area; it averages only 29 litres.Third, the inadequacy of water supply has a number of financial and hygienic implications. Majority of people in the high-density (Squatter settlements), who are actually the low income earners spend a considerable amount of a monthly income on buying water. More than two-thirds (68.5 percent) of households in the low income areas spend more than 5.0 percent of their monthly income on water. This is against the World Health Organization's recommendations of not more than 3.0 percent of a monthly income on water and sanitation. In the low- density area where the majority is the high income earners, only one-tenth of households spend more than 5.0 percent of their monthly income on water. About one-thirds of households in the high income areas spend less than 2.0 percent of their monthly income on water. Therefore, the problem of accessibility to water in Dar es Salaam city is not mainly centred on ecological point of view but depends on the income of the people themselves. The inadequacy of water, also, interferes with the proper functioning of sewerage systems, personal and public hygiene as well as the environmental management, thereby causing the spread of communicable diseases such as typhoid, dysentery, and cholera. Nearly one - thirds (32 percent) of the infection in the city is associated with the use of contaminated water for cooking, drinking, washing and bathing. Basing on these findings, some recommendations have been put forward. These include: Improvement of domestic water supply in the squatter settlements. The government should monitor the supply of water by ensuring that such supplies are cheaper and of better quality. Besides the government, other private companies and authorities should be allowed to manage the city water services. The existing water production plants should be expanded as per required demand. Furthermore, the city dwellers should be encouraged to form community base organizations through which they will participate in the planning, implementing and monitoring the progress of water services as well as solving the environmental problems in their localities.
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Population density, Water supply, Tanzania, Dar es Salaam (city)
Mosi, J. B. R. (1996) Urban population growth and accessibility to domestic water supply in Tanzania: a case study of Dar es Salaam city, Masters’ dissertation, University of Dar es Salaam. Available at (