Skip to main content

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. 

Improving Resilience towards Climate and Health Hazards in Tanzanian River Catchments

group picture Tanzania
Group photo taken at the inception meeting for introducing COVID activities in the catchment.
Copyright: GIZ/Dr. Nathalie Richards

The Pangani basin in the North of Tanzania is increasingly water-stressed. Climate change is impacting regular rainfall patterns, and catchment degradation is leading to reduced water flows. Meanwhile,  water demand is increasing due to population growth and economic development. Additionally, decreasing water quality, partly due to pollution from agricultural practices, and poor water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) conditions is affecting the health of riverain communities. Combined, these dynamics are reducing the resilience of riverain communities to consequences of climate change, as well as to global shocks such as COVID-19.

Partnerships for healthy catchments

NatuReS Tanzania supports partnerships in the Usa and Weruweru sub-catchments, which are part of the Kikuletwa catchment in the Pangani basin. To improve communities’ resilience towards climate change and health hazards like the current pandemic, NatuReS supports the Pangani Basin Water Board in working closely with the local government, community organizations and businesses to address the water-related challenges in the sub-catchments.

Currently, three initiatives are improving water conservation in the upper parts of the sub-catchments and increasing the efficiency of water use in the lower parts of the sub-catchments, particularly within irrigation furrow systems. By doing so, these initiatives are addressing environmental risks impacting the health of the river and of its inhabitants.

Weruweru Catchment
Participants of the tree tracking app initiative are taking part in a tree planting exercise in the Weruweru sub- catchment. Copyright: GIZ/Adelaide Mkwawa

Initiatives aimed at improving resilience of ecosystems and communities

Maintaining healthy forests remains one of the most effective ways to ensure the health of catchment ecosystems. A tree-tracking app, developed in cooperation with the NGO Greenstand, supports communities willing to reforest degraded areas. Communities are trained to track the growth of the trees they are planting and receive a monetary compensation for their efforts. Additionally, the app serves as a communication channel to inform communities on preventive measures against COVID-19.

Most inhabitants of the sub-catchments are smallholder farmers. The Tanzanian civil society organization Shahidi wa Maji is conducting a WASH assessment within the DOMIKWA and MKUFI irrigation furrows in the Kikuletwa catchment to detect risk sources for deteriorating quality of water meant for human consumption. Pollution hotspots will be identified and farmers’ WASH situation – both in the furrows and at their homes – will be assessed following the Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS) standards. Based on the results, Shahidi wa Maji will be able to implement the necessary actions needed to improve WASH conditions both at the farms and at peoples’ homes.

Shahidi Wa Maji
Shahidi wa Maji Executive Director, Mr. Abel Dugange, explaining the WASH@Farm & WASH@Home assessment to inhabitants of the DOMIKWA and MKUFI furrows. Copyright: GIZ/Dr. Nathalie Richards

Finally, Rikolto, an international NGO, is training 1,026 smallholder farmers within the Usa and Weruweru furrows on good agricultural practices, such as pesticide and fertilizer use. The aim is to improve water use efficiency and reduce water pollution within the furrows. Reducing water risks such as scarcity and pollution will turn the furrows into a healthy source of water and therefore enhance the communities’ resilience.

Rikolto agronomist
Rikolto Horticulture & Grains Senior Agribusiness Advisor, Mr. Harold Lema, explaining agricultural best practices aimed to reduce water pollution while safeguarding communities’ livelihoods in the long-term. Copyright: GIZ/Dr. Nathalie Richards

Together against external shocks

Water scarcity and poor WASH, as spotlighted by the current COVID-19 pandemic, are posing serious challenges to local communities in the Usa and Weruweru sub-catchments in Northern Tanzania. Enabling communities to improve their resilience to such shocks is essential. Therefore, the WASH assessment will provide guidance on how to increase the health of local populations; trainings on agricultural best practices will decrease the health risks users of the furrows are currently facing; and afforestation will contribute to better absorb climate change-induced shocks in the long-term.

Natural Resources Stewardship for Sustainable Agriculture in Tanzania

Agriculture is Tanzania’s main economic driver, providing 30% of the country’s GDP and livelihood opportunities to 70% of the population living in rural areas. As a result, this sector aids the country in reducing poverty rates by providing income-generating opportunities.

However, due to the rapid increase in population size, massive portions of land are being cleared for agricultural purposes, causing an overdependence on the available natural resources required for maintaining a balanced eco-system and controlling the adequate environmental conditions required for a habitable environment.

Conserving ecosystems while providing rural communities with income opportunities

Seeing this, partners of the Sustainable Water Management (SUWAMA) partnership in the Weruweru sub catchment in Northern Tanzania worked together to bring an alternative, aimed to help communities in these rural areas broaden their livelihood opportunities in an eco-friendly manner. The idea is to conserve the ecosystem so that it continues providing the optimal conditions for sustainable agriculture whilst providing rural communities an opportunity to generate a little more income through a #pay2grow model.

tree nursery in Tanzania
Ficus, Cordia Africana, and Markhamia Lutea seedlings ready to be planted. Copyright: GIZ/Sarah Scott

Testing this idea in the Weruweru sub-catchment, each partner took up their role responsibly by sharing tasks equally amongst themselves. A study was done by the Kilimanjaro Project in collaboration with the Pangani Basin Water Board (PBWB) and the Weruweru Water Users Association (WUA) to identify the degraded riparian hotspots in the area. After the hotspots were identified, African Plantations Kilimanjaro (APK) allocated the nursery site and water to raise 21,500 seedlings, thus enabling Kijani Pamoja to nurture the seedlings appropriately. When the seedlings were ready, Dekker Chrysanten transported 1400 of them to the identified planting sites allocated in the survey. Finally, communities from each village in the wards participated in planting these seedlings on the identified hotspots with guidance from PBWB, Local Government Authorities (LGAs) and Kijani Pamoja. The remaining 20,100 will be planted towards the end of the year 2021.

tree planting in Northern Tanzania
PBWB official (on the left) guiding the men of the Nkweshoo village on where to plant the seedlings in the 2nd riparian hotspot within the vicinity of the Weruweru river.
Copyright: GIZ/Adelaide Mkwawa
people planting trees in Northern Tanzania
Men and women of the Kilanya village planting trees together on the first riparian zone within the vicinity of the Weruweru river.
Copyright: GIZ/Adelaide Mkwawa

These trees will be geo-tagged and closely monitored by the community through quarterly updates on the growth status. The communication will be done through a mobile application designed by Greenstand – an American NGO collaborating with Kijani Pamoja and the Kilimanjaro Project. The caretakers will take photos of these trees through the application and their existence will be justified through geo-tagging. As a reward for taking care of the trees, these caretakers will receive a small stipend from each tree. Also, educational information on the best preventative measures against COVID-19 in rural areas will be available on the application.

Tree being planted in Tanzania
One of the three tree species, Markhamia Lutea, planted in the riparian hotspots.
Copyright: GIZ/Adelaide Mkwawa

Seeing the successful collaboration between public and private sectors, civil society organisations and the community itself in the Weruweru sub-catchment shows that the natural resources stewardship approach in Tanzania has the potential to assist the government in meeting its set goals in the National Development Framework for the country’s socio-economic development.

To stay up to date, also follow us on Twitter!