Tanzania Multi-Sector Forum on Water Resources: Collaboration Key to Ensuring Water Security

Senior leaders from the Tanzanian water sector convened at the Julius Nyerere International Conference Centre in Dar es Salaam on 3rd December 2020 for the 4th National Multi-Sector Forum on Water Resources to explore strategies for strengthening collaboration among stakeholders in Tanzania’s water sector. The theme for this year’s event, which also accommodated virtual participation, was “accelerating realization of water security for all through enhanced multi-sectoral dialogues.”

The forum, which was hosted by the Ministry of Water in collaboration with the 2030 Water Resources Group, Global Affairs Canada, and Shahidi wa Maji, aimed to enhance cross-sectoral coordination as envisioned in the country’s Integrated Water Resources Management Development (IWRMD) Plans by breaking down institutional silos and catalyzing the exchange of knowledge, expertise, technologies and financial resources required to improve the country’s future water security.

“[T]he forum is a platform for candidly discussing different issues related to water resources management and development in this country and providing solutions or recommendations as well. In this way, we all collectively contribute to making decisions on this important resource as envisioned in the National Water Policy of 2002.” said the Permanent Secretary for Water, Eng. Anthony Sanga, during his opening address.

Tanzania is endowed with relatively abundant freshwater resources, but these are unevenly distributed and increasingly at risk. Water demand in the key economic sectors of agriculture, energy and manufacturing is rising sharply alongside rising requirements from population growth for supplying domestic consumption, improving the conditions of the poor and for the environment.

The need to work collaboratively is therefore more urgent than ever. Climate change is likely to have severe consequences for Tanzania through increased temperatures, changes in rainfall, increasingly frequent extreme weather events and rising sea levels.

The aim of the one-day event was to enhance collaboration, build synergies amongst actors and highlight collective action in water resources management. The overall objective was to bring together diverse actors in the water sector to discuss and deliberate on effective ways to achieve sustainable water resources management and enhance key sectors and other stakeholders’ participation for improved water security for all.

“Together in this unique group we have and still can accomplish so much as opposed to a situation where there would have been only one sector” said the Forum Chairperson, Eng. Mbogo Futakamba. “This has always been my motto, ‘if you want to reach far, move together – but if you want to move faster, move alone’”

Earlier this year, recognizing the value of collaboration to achieving the country’s water security goals, the Ministry of Water facilitated the enactment of legislation to roll out the multi-sectoral forum on water resources to the basin level, with some basins cascading the concept down to catchment level. The forum enabled a deeper understanding of how these initiatives are impacting other sectors and will allow for the sharing of best practices and innovation.

The event also focused on the contributions of the private sector towards water stewardship and strengthened water security. The private sector has tremendous capacity to incentivize stakeholders across other sectors by setting precedence, especially in terms of technological innovation. The forums provided a platform for private companies to highlight their contributions in the larger spectrum of addressing water security in Tanzania with the view to exchange knowledge and best practices within the context of building a strong private sector dialogue on water stewardship.

The forum also highlighted ongoing as well as potential contributions of the media towards supporting desired changes in society for achieving water security for all through educating the masses and raising awareness.

The forum, now officially in its fourth year, brings together senior leaders from government, business, research institutions, and civil society, to strengthen inter-sectoral collaboration, inform decision making at the national and basin levels, and help shape an improved institutional framework for decision making.