Inclusively and sustainably managing natural resources: Experiences from cross-sectoral stewardship partnerships in Tanzania 

Collaborative approaches to natural resources governance enable accountability and equitable allocation of resources between competing demands, as can be the case between upstream and downstream water use needs. GIZ’s Natural Resources Stewardship (NatuReS) programme provides facilitation and strategy in setting up cross-sectoral stewardship partnerships for Tanzanian stakeholders to jointly analyze and address natural resources risks, aiming at generating social, environmental and economic benefits.

The programme developed the Natural Resources Risk and Action Framework (NRAF) as a five-phased participatory process to enable stakeholders from businesses, communities, and governments to tackle shared environmental risks together.

Setting up Stewardship Partnerships in Tanzanian River Catchments

Stewardship partnerships supported by GIZ-NatuReS are built on the understanding that natural resources are better managed through cross-sectoral collaboration. Leveraging the resources and capacities of every sector, the availability and integrity of these resources can be ensured in the long term. Partnerships are established through a step-by-step inclusive process, guiding partners in tackling shared environmental risks in a participatory manner. The aim is to reduce classical silo working systems by accompanying public, private, and civil society sector in identifying joint risks and supporting them in developing joint solutions to reduce these risks. Under this framework, NatuReS Tanzania acts as a neutral broker – supporting partners in working together to find mutually beneficial solutions for sustainable economic growth and the continued use of precious natural resources (Richards et. al, 2022)

Partners under the Sustainable Water Management Partnership (SUWAMA) in Usa River, Northern Tanzania, during the signing of their Partnership Action Plan. Copyright: GIZ/Aristarick Mkenda. 

Enhancing Inclusive Participation in Water Resources Governance

NatuReS in Tanzania has enhanced inclusive participation within the supported partnerships by ensuring the equal involvement and representation of all stakeholders in the discussion, planning and decision-making processes in natural resources management. To enable cross-sectoral collaboration, good leadership and coordination mechanisms are of paramount importance. Therefore, the key added value the partnership approach brings to natural resources management is improving the communication and coordination between various users, who are otherwise often not communicating or even hostile towards each other. The regular good governance meetings that partners under the Sustainable Water Management Partnership (SUWAMA) held prior to the Covid-19 pandemic and steering committee meetings that continue to date are examples of these joint fora. In these meetings, participants exchange about how regulators’ roles and responsibilities can be harmonized to increase results-based decision-making, collaboration between sectors can be enhanced, and compliance to environmental regulations be better enforced.  

SUWAMA Partners in Usa River, Northern Tanzania, discussing governance issues in the sub-catchment. Copyright: GIZ/Adelaide Mkwawa. 

Strengthening Civil Society Organizations 

To improve communities and civil society participation, NatuReS has continuously supported the capacitation of Water Users Associations (WUAs), who were previously inactive. WUAs are legal entities stemming from the Water Resources Management Act of 2009. They act as “small water boards” at the community level and are designed as the lowest participative organizations for water resources management within defined basins. Covering segments of watersheds, they are broadly responsible for water conservation activities, conflict management over water issues, and water allocation to irrigators through a permitting system. They are mandated by the Water Act and respective basin boards to bring up the issues of water users at the basin level. As “the eyes and ears” on the ground for the basin offices, they are particularly insightful in managing conflicts over water allocation and know the livelihood activities of local communities.

Water Users Association members participating in a Financial Management training. Copyright: GIZ/Ebrania Mlimbila.

As a WUA leader, I was inspired to join the partnership after seeing the challenges of working with a large group of water users. The partnership has worked by bringing together investors, water users and other diverse stakeholders. We know what everyone is doing, where water is being abstracted from and for what purpose. Furthermore, water users are now conversant with the various governance structures responsible in taking care and overseeing the available water sources. Prior to joining the partnership, Water Users Associations and the Pangani Basin Water Office would constantly be accused of not equitably distributing water among beneficiaries. Through improved coordination, stakeholders now understand their roles and responsibilities in taking care of this precious natural resource. 

– Tito Kitomari, Upper Kikuletwa WUA Leader 

NatuReS undertook a capacity assessment of the WUAs, identified areas for enhancing their capacity, and provided trainings within the areas of Catchment Conservation – enabling them to play a greater role in sustainable catchment conservation and management; Financial Management – supporting them in managing the finances of their institutions; as well as Leadership and Governance – to build their capacity on strategic leadership, focusing on governance and community leadership roles. 

Water resources issues concern everyone in the community, therefore involvement [participation] is crucial. Partnerships provide a platform where stakeholders discuss these issues and help us to come up with more powerful solutions.

– Karim Kimaro, Weruweru WUA Secretary

Steering Private Sector Funds towards Water Resources Management  

Gabions installed at the DOMIKWA irrigation furrow intake. Copyright: GIZ/Ebrania Mlimbila.

Under partnerships following a stewardship approach, businesses go beyond their corporate social responsibility by making in-cash and in-kind contributions to partnership activities, leveraging funds for public sector to adequately manage natural resources. A good example is the DOMIKWA irrigation furrow structural rehabilitation in the Usa River sub-catchment. The furrow, located along the Usa River, is one of the main furrows supplying water in the area. Partners joined forces to rehabilitate it after its structure had severely deteriorated over time. In-cash and in-kind contributions of 38.5M and 10M Tanzanian shillings were pledged by private sector and furrow members, respectively. The private sector procured most of the construction materials and covered all the labor costs. 

Without effective collaboration between government agencies, businesses and communities, it is impossible to make these activities [water resources management] sustainable.

– Abraham Yessaya, Community Development Officer, PBWB
DOMIKWA furrow structural rehabilitation discussions between public sector, private sector and civil society. Copyright: GIZ/Ebrania Mlimbila.

Availability and good quality of natural resources like water, soil or air are key to livelihoods and economies. Their scarcity, endangerment or mismanagement can provoke conflicts. Innovative approaches like natural resources stewardship offer an opportunity to address shared risks and develop joint, inclusive and long-lasting solutions for water-stressed catchments such as the Pangani Basin in Tanzania.

Maintaining a 7-kilometer-long river stream is too much to handle for one company alone. It is difficult to monitor issues such as water theft, structural issues and vandalism at the furrows and water source. As a beneficiary, Dekker Chrysanten believes that collective action is necessary to resolve water challenges. Addressing water risks becomes easier as the responsibility to maintain the river stream is equitably shared amongst stakeholders.

– Gabriel Steven, Flower Transporter and Breeding officer, Dekker Chrysanten 

Online Permit System Easing Compliance on Water Use and Wastewater Discharge in Tanzania

Sustainable water resources management is dependent on multi-sectoral efforts enabling water-conscious interventions. Tanzania’s Water Resources Management Act No. 11 of 2009 regulates water allocation, wastewater discharge and borehole drilling through water use and discharge permits. To enhance compliance to this Act, the Ministry of Water (MoW) and the National e-Government Agency (eGA) have developed the Water User Information Management System (WUMIS), through NatuReS’ support under the Partnership with Export Processing Zones Authority (EPZA). WUMIS is a permitting system that allows applicants to apply for water use or discharge permits online.

The overall ambition of WUMIS is to support online services and improve the permit management cycle. Its coverage includes permit application, permit related payments, as well as monitoring and reporting processes against permit requirements.

Industrial Wastewater Management in Tanzania: Challenges and Solutions

In July 2022, 18 participants, from nine Basin Water Boards and two from the Ministry of Water, were trained on the use and application of WUMIS on the website and mobile application platforms. The system is now declared ready to use for all nine Basin Water Boards in the country. The Maji Information System (MAJI IS) was already rolled out for use by all institutions under Ministry of Water including Basin Water Boards since 2021.

Eliya Joseph from Multics Systems, a Tanzanian technology company, leading the 2nd User Acceptance Test (UAT) exercise. Copyright: GIZ/

While WUMIS was initially developed as an online permit application solution for the Ministry of Water, the tool will subsequently be enhanced to cater for all permit-related applications including industrial wastewater discharge. This will make it useful for other regulatory agencies such as the Tanzanian Export Processing Authority, the National Environment Management Council or Water and Supply and Sanitation Authorities, easing the challenge of wastewater management.

Mrs. Rosemary Rwebugisa, Assistant Director – Water Resources (second left) and other participants during a break-out session discussion. Copyright: GIZ/Aristarick Mkenda

Enabling applicants to apply for permits without being obliged to travel to the Basin Boards offices is expected to raise compliance to Water Resources Management Act No. 11 of 2009 in the areas of water use, borehole drilling and wastewater discharge nationally.

Launch of Industrial Wastewater Management Guidelines

Tanzania has recently achieved the status of a low middle-income country. The creation of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) and Export Processing Zones (EPZs) under the surveillance of the Export Process Zone Authority (EPZA) are considered key in the National Development Plan.

The EPZA Director of Investment Promotion and Facilitation Mr. James Maziku with GIZ-NatuReS Tanzania Country Coordinator Mr. Fridtjof Behnsen during the launch of the guidelines.
Copyright: GIZ

Wastewater from any manufacturing process is discharged back into the environment. Untreated discharge harms the ecosystem and the people using it. It also has a negative effect on foreign investments, as industries often adhere to strict environmental compliance.

NatuReS has been collaborating with EPZA to improve water security and increase attraction of the zones to investors. Under the collaboration, EPZA partnered with three other main governing bodies in regulating industrial wastewater discharge. Their goal is to develop industrial wastewater management guidelines for SEZs. Other regulators include the Basin Water Boards (BWBs), Water Supply and Sanitation Authorities (WSSA), and the National Environment Management Council (NEMC) as the highest authority to safeguard overall environmental compliance.

“We have come up with these specific guidelines that will ensure, wastewater from the zones that we are managing will cause no harm to people and environment; industries will get water at the desired quality and with no negative impacts to the surrounding communities,” said Mr. Lamau Mpolo, Director of Planning and Development at EPZA, after the launch on 18 December 2020 in an interview with Tanzania Broadcasting Corporation (TBC).

While the guidelines will cover all Export Processing Zones, they will also be distributed to other stakeholders, including district councils for efficient wastewater management, according to Mr. Mpolo.

Tanzania - The frontpage of the guidelines document
Tanzania – The frontpage of the guidelines document
Copyright: GIZ


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NatuReS is commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and co-funded by the European Union and the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO). This website’s contents are the sole responsibility of GIZ and do not necessarily reflect the views of the BMZ, European Union or FCDO.

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