WSSCC Chair and Executive Director meet the press in Tanzania, discuss Global Sanitation Fund and new safe water initiative

Last updated: Wed, 02/06/2013 - 16:14

Hon. Prof. Anna Tibaijuka, Tanzania Minister of Land Housing and Habitation, in her capacity as Chair of WSSCC, held a press conference today on the occasion of the visit of its  Executive Director, Mr. Christopher Williams. 

Flanked by senior officials from the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Water and Irrigation, Plan International Tanzania and the National WASH coalition, Hon. Tibaijuka confirmed a TSHS 8 Billion (USD 5 million)  investment programme by the Council over 5 years to improve sanitation for one million people in Tanzania. This concludes the official pledge made by WSSCC on 5th June 2012 at the launch of the National Sanitation Campaign in Moshi, inaugurated by H.E. President Jakaya Kikwete. 

The programme -- known as the “Usafi wa Mazingira Tanzania (UMATA)” in Kiswahili -- uses community-led initiatives to improve sanitation behavior and hand washing practices while also supporting local entrepreneurs to construct improved toilets. Organized through local government in three districts of Dodoma Region, the programme is coordinated by the Ministry of Health to implement the National Sanitation Campaign. The WSSCC donation will kick-start multiple investments by communities, government and international development partners to ensure universal access to sanitation as enshrined within the country’s development Vision 2025 and in pursuit of the UN Millenium Development Goals. 

The Ministry of Health, the government focal point for UMATA, has for the past year chaired its Programme Coordination Mechanism bringing together all key stakeholders in the sector under the leadership of Mr. Elias Chinamo, Assistant Director of Environmental Health Services.

PLAN International Tanzania  won the highly competitive tender as Executing Agency for the WSSCC supported programme in Dodoma region. Country Director Mr. David Muthungu has already started consultations with local authorities and 30 non-governmental organizations in Dodoma on the implementation process. He is keen on a timely implementation. 

Mr. Williams also introduced “WAFSAH” -- Water for Sanitation and Hygiene -- as an emerging initiative of the Council to improve access to water for sanitation and hygiene to be piloted in East Africa, starting in the Lake Victoria region. The project will promote rainwater collection, water treatment and water wells for water-deprived communities that are making efforts to improve sanitation and hygiene. WAFSAH shall be organized as a partnership between  the respective Ministries  of Water  and WSSCC and will be implemented through the respective National WASH Coalitions. The  initiative will support households, schools and clinics with local solutions to water scarcity that can ensure effective hand washing and the cleanliness of improved concrete-slab pit latrines.  Communities will be required to contribute matching funds to ensure buy in and sustainability of investments.

Said Mr. Williams “it is obvious that you cannot wash your hands if water is not flowing, and neither can you maintain an improved (VIP) latrine without water. We are going to pilot integrated solutions that others can emulate and scale up”. 

Prof. Tibaijuka was grateful that WSSCC is supporting her country but emphasized the importance for communities to recognize that money alone will not solve the problem. ‘Through this program we are campaigning to promote behavioral change as well”. Citing Mwalimu Nyerere  she said he taught us “ uchafu ni tabia siyo umaskini” meaning “poor sanitation and hygiene is not poverty it is a cultural behavior’. The programme will use the media to drive this message home to the public. She said she shall also see whether   the Ministry of National Education can include hygiene education into the core curriculum as part of the UMATA and the  campaign”.