Dar es Salaam — Environmental and hygiene experts have proposed measures to take for people to protect themselves from outbreaks of diseases as residents are now battling with water shortages.
They warn that some emerging water vendors in various parts facing water shortages may take advantage of the ongoing water rationing to sell water from unsafe sources.
Dar es Salaam Water Supply and Sanitation Authority (Dawasa) recently announced water rationing in the city caused by the decrease in water levels in Ruvu and Wami.
The government agency said the drop of water levels was caused by prolonged dry spells due to climate change. The experts say the situation poses health risks to water consumers who are now accessing it from alternative sources.
The government’s immunisation unit also advises water consumers to make sure the water is boiled properly before drinking.
“Under the current situation, people must be careful with the water they use. Instead of fighting the scarcity of water, we may start to deal with diseases,” says a hygiene officer from Tanzania Water and Sanitation Network (Tawasanet), Mr Darius Mhawi.
The acting assistant director for environmental health and sanitation in the Ministry of Health, Social Welfare, Community Development, Gender and Children, Dr Khalid Massa, said the public should ensure they use water from authorized sources in order to avoid outbreaks of diseases.
“For a long time we have not experienced cases of cholera. So, I urge the public to take all precautions to ensure they are protected from disease especially this period when we experience water shortages,” he said.
He also asked local councils to ensure that food vendors followed all the sanitation requirements such as washing hands by using fresh running water and soap and ensure their areas were always clean.
Some residents say they now live in fear for their health.
“We are at high risk. We always consume fluids such as fresh juice which we are not sure of its preparations. With this shortage of water, we may consume drinks from contaminated water,” said Ms Neema Munuo, a resident of Mwenge.
She said the water shortages could be taken as an opportunity by unscrupulous traders to try and make quick super-profits without care for the consequences their customers may face in future. I don’t want to see something like cholera,” she added.
Some water suppliers say they are treating the water scarcity as a boom for their business but they make sure that they supply safe water.
“I am selling a 20-litre jerry can at Sh500 and that has always been the normal price even before rationing started. Due to rationing, I normally store enough water from Dawasa in my 5000-litre tank when it flows and sell it at retail prices,” said a supplier identified as Songo Musa.
“It is true that people should be careful because there are unscrupulous traders who are ready to look for water from anywhere in order to make money. My customers trust me. I would rather not sell water than selling unsafe precious liquid to the consumers because if my customers get ill, they will not be able to buy again from me.”
The experts insist that people should be responsible of protecting and conserving water sources.
“It should not be the work of government alone. People should know that by degrading the environment and water sources, we will all suffer. Let’s all take this serious,” says environmental activist Mr Heche Suguta.