The government of Tanzania has announced its intention to further exploit Lake Victoria – Africa’s largest freshwater body – to provide safe drinking water to its populations. The new strategy will benefit towns and villages in the northern part of the country, close to Lake Victoria.
The Tanzanian government intends to escalated drinking water projects around the south shore of the Lake Victoria in the coming years, as it progressively abandons the use of groundwater to pump fresh water into Lake Victoria.
“We are working on a new plan to ensure that villages near water sources like Victoria get water directly from the lakes rather than spending more money on wells,” says Jumaa Awesso, Tanzania’s deputy water minister.
Large drinking water projects have been launched in some rural areas like Simiyu. The project in Simiyu involves pumping water from the lake and transporting it to a water treatment station that will make it suitable for consumption before being pumped to villages in northern Tanzania through a 135 km long pipeline. Capable of carrying 19,000 m3 of water per day, this pipeline will be laid in trenches along the main roads.
The drinking water project funded by The Green Climate Fund (GCF), a branch of the United Nations (UN), and the Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW), the German development agency, is expected to benefit 263,000 people in 136 arid villages in northern Tanzania.
According to the Norwegian company Multiconsult, which carried out the environmental and social impact assessment for the Simiyu drinking water project, “the amount of water withdrawn from Lake Victoria by the Simiyu project will not significantly affect the water balance of the lake as such, but the combined impact of this project and many other water withdrawal projects around Lake Victoria must be managed in collaboration with other countries that share the same water resources”.
Lake Victoria is the largest lake on the African continent with an area of more than 68,000 square kilometers. Located in a densely populated area, it is already heavily exploited for fishing, irrigation and especially for drinking water supply. Its water is pumped to supply large cities such as Kampala in Uganda, Kisumu in Kenya and Mwanza in Tanzania.