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Author: a.mkwawa

Combating Pesticide Pollution in Tanzania  

Strengthening water security is crucial to enhance farmers’ resilience to climate change, as well as to combat unprecedented global shocks such as Covid-19. Changing rainfall patterns and catchment degradation are stressing water resources in the Pangani basin in Northern Tanzania, while water demand is increasing due to both population and economic growth in the catchment. Combined with the pollution created by the run-off from agricultural land, these factors are severely affecting the catchment’s water quality. In turn, poor water quality is affecting the health of riverain communities, who rely on the water resources for cooking, sanitation, etc., making them less resilient to the pandemic or other diseases resulting from inadequate hygiene conditions. 

To address these issues, the international NGO Rikolto, through the Sustainable Water Management (SUWAMA) Partnerships and supported by the Natural Resources Stewardship Programme, trained smallholder farmers in the Usa River and Weruweru sub-catchments on sustainable agricultural practices. Trainees learned how to improve fertilizer and pesticide use to reduce chemical pollution from the pesticide discharge into the river furrows.

Pesticide Training conducted by the Tanzania Plant Health and Pesticide Authority. Copyright: GIZ/Ine Tollenaers

Efficient and sustainable farming practices 

Farmers in the Usa River and Weruweru sub-catchments extensively use pesticides, based on the idea that preventive spraying is necessary to protect their crops and obtain good yields. Often times however, the dosage is applied in excess, or the chemical required for the crop is misapplied because the labelling on these pesticides is either not clear or not in their language. Furthermore, these farmers – mostly women – do not have access to Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) during spray times in the field, putting them at risk through the regular exposure to chemicals. Moreover, harmful amounts of pesticide residue leak into the water channels, thus contaminating village water supplies. Finally, the fruits and vegetables available on the markets contain high amounts of pesticide residues unsuitable for consumption. All these factors put pressure on the ecosystem and lower community resilience. This has become particularly evident during the Covid-19 pandemic, when safe water uses, and hygiene became a priority. 

Good Agricultural Practices training by Flora Arumeru. Copyright: GIZ/Ine Tollenaers

Improving water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) conditions 

In order to improve WASH conditions, both at farm and at household level (WASH@Farm@Home), an inter-sectoral collaboration between Rikolto and the Tanzania Plant Health and Pesticide Authority (TPHPA) was sought to raise awareness and improve current farming practices. An intensive ‘training of trainers’ capacitated 108 farmers, providing them with the necessary skills and knowledge to train their peers on the safe use of pesticides. The 108 trainers will each coach 12 fellow farmers, hence reaching a total of 1296 trained smallholder farmers. Practical, interactive trainings were conducted on 14 demonstration plots, and the 108 trainers were provided with the necessary equipment to enable them to adequately pass on the skills and knowledge gained.  

News coverage on Good Agricultural Practices trainings and Personal Protective Equipment material distribution. Copyright: ITV Tanzania

Collection centres for pesticide containers, first of their kind in the country

In addition to the training sessions, three pesticide collection centres (one square meter by two metres high) were set up to enable farmers to safely dispose of empty or expired pesticide containers in their community. These empty containers will be collected by TPHPA for safe disposal. This cost-effective, innovative solution is the first of its kind in Tanzania and can be replicated across the country, thus reducing chemical contamination in the country’s water streams. 

News coverage on the Pesticide Collection Centres. Copyright: ITV Tanzania

Digitizing Water Management Systems for Sustainable Economic Growth in Tanzania

Many emerging economies and developing countries invest in special economic zones and industrial parks to boost their manufacturing and agricultural potential. However, as most industries heavily rely on water, their activities can lead to overuse and the discharge of untreated wastewater. These environmental risks not only affect adjacent populations, but can also lead to operational and supplier disruptions, higher production costs, reputational damage, and reduced investments. To reduce these risks, on an institutional level, the Natural Resource Stewardship Programme (NatuReS) seeks to embed water and natural resources stewardship principles into national and regional standards, as well as in the governance framework of economic zones and industrial parks. 

WUMIS and Maji IS systems were introduced during the Tanzania Water Week. Copyright: GIZ/Aristarick Mkenda 

Collaboration with the Ministry of Water

The Wami-Ruvu Basin Water Board (WRBWB) is one of the nine basin water offices in Tanzania under the overall structure of the Ministry of Water (MoW). WRBWB’s major responsibility is managing and protecting water sources in three of the country’s most important catchments, the Wami River Basin, the Ruvu River Basin, and the coastal drainages. As the main custodian of water resources, the Wami-Ruvu Basin Water Board has been collaborating with NatuReS through the partnership with the Export Processing Zones Authority (EPZA), in enhancing the regulatory environment for investors regarding water-related concerns. Moreover, they are collaborating to improve the overall attractiveness of these zones by helping to secure water as a key resource for economic development and transformation. 

Digital water management systems for enhanced efficiency

In 2018, the WRBWB started to develop a permitting system that would enable the basin to issue water use, discharge and drilling permits online. Through this partnership and with NatuReS’ support, the online multi-agency Water User Information Management System (WUMIS) was further improved to include all water use and discharge permit application, payment, monitoring and reporting processes and to cater demand from different regulatory agencies such as the Dar es Salaam Water and Sewerage Authority (DAWASA), the Export Processing Zones Authority (EPZA) or the National Environment Management Council (NEMC). The developed online solution quickly attracted the interest of other Basin Water Boards in the country and discussions were held with the Ministry of Water (MoW).

Simultaneously, the MoW itself had already begun to develop a similar system targeting all nine water basins, called Maji Information System (Maji IS) with ‘Maji’ translating to ‘water’ in Kiswahili. Because of the similarities, the system functionalities of WUMIS and Maji IS were compared to identify the more convenient system that could be upscaled and made available countrywide. While many features are the same, it was concluded that WUMIS is a more suitable option, because it also includes the option for new users to apply for a water permit online. This lowers entry barriers by saving them the long-distance trip to central basin water board offices. By making the official application process more convenient and practical, the MAJI IS system helps to reach all users. Already existing permits are migrated into the new system. 

Participants from Pangani and Wami Ruvu Basin Water Offices at a workshop on WUMIS in Morogoro. Copyright: GIZ/Aristarick Mkenda 

Opportunities of a digital permitting system

Currently, the functionalities of WUMIS and Maji IS are being integrated into the government’s digital environment to make their services more efficient and accessible. After the finalization of these steps, the new permitting system will be managed by the Ministry and will be fully documented and programmed in an open-source system that will allow for future changes and additions.  

This digital permitting system allows water management entities to predetermine time-specific demands for freshwater supply and wastewater discharge. By ensuring the supply of required quantities, water security for industrial production is increased. All in all, the development and implementation of digital water management solutions provide great opportunities to create regulatory clarity, ease water management and hence support a more sustainable economic growth in special economic zones and industrial parks. 

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