#StandWithEva: How the Tanzanian government can emulate Kenya by providing clean water in remote towns

Fifteen-year-old Eva Tolage is lending her voice to inspire change by speaking up for her village, the remote town of Malinzanga, Tanzania. “I’m a young girl from an underprivileged area, but my voice is as important as anyone’s,” said Eva. She and the rest of her friends in Malinzanga are an ambitious bunch with hard working parents, some of whom still practice subsistence farming, and with the little proceeds, cater for the family and send their children to school. But getting an education in remote communities is not as easy; a number of issues like electricity and access to clean water interfere with school activities.

Under the millennium development goal 7, governments were tasked with reducing the number of people without access to safe drinking water by half by the end of 2015; the target was exceeded five years ago, still, about 783 million people in the world today cannot access safe drinking water.

Malinzanga has no water and kids like Eva who ought to be in school, walk several hours twice a day to the river to get water, unclean water. “I miss class because I’m out fetching water, it’s a problem that needs to be solved,” the teenager said in her native dialect. In developing countries, kids like Eva are often denied equal access to education and are hit the hardest by the effects of extreme poverty because they lack basic necessities.

In 2014, Eva and her classmates, students of the Mlowa Secondary School in Malinzanga, wrote a letter to the government of Tanzania asking for clean water in their community. It’s been over two years, and the government is yet to reply which prompted the launch of an online petition and the hashtag #StandWithEva signalling for people all over the world to stand in solidarity with the teenager in her appeal to get the Tanzanian government to invest in clean water and essential services in her community.

The petition reads:

Dear Tanzanian Leaders,
Please take action and provide clean water and other essential services for Eva, young girls like her and her community – and make it a priority to deliver the same for every person in Tanzania. We’re counting on you to lead by example and turn the promises made in the new Global Goals into real actions that could change lives.

Emulating Kenya to bring about change

Before now, slums in Nairobi, Kenya were bedevilled by a lack of safe drinking water, but that problem was solved by a genius innovation of clean water dispensing ATM’s. ATM’s are widely popular for dispensing money, but in Nairobi slums, residents use these popular money-vending-like machines to access safe drinking water.

Credit - globalcitizen.org
Credit – globalcitizen.org

The brilliant initiative, a partnership between the Nairobi Water and Sewerage Company and Danish company, Grundfos, has seen the installation of a number of water dispensing machines in slums around Nairobi. The water vending machines operate just like the typical cash machines allowing customers access to affordable water using smart cards. Residents have testified to its benefits, with many calling it a blessing as they have helped cut costs dramatically and aid in their health improvement.

In Nairobi, every water vending machine is connected to the city’s main water supply, which is already treated. The residents are given a card to purchase water at a very affordable rate, an amount of Sh50, loaded onto the card, is equivalent to a hundred jerry cans of water.

The Tanzanian government will do well to toe this line in providing clean water for the people of Malinzanga, and other remote communities in need of potable water in Tanzania. While it would be best to furnish every home in Eva’s village with fully functional plumbing and pipe borne water, installing these water vending machines is also a good option. The pupils of Mlowa will have more time for their education and less time, energy and money will be spent on kerosene or charcoal to boil unclean water from the river in order to sterilize it.

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