Construction of an over TZS 600bn water project to cater for an industry boom in Mtwara Region is scheduled to start this financial year, the government affirmed on Tuesday 1 November, reports the Tanzania Daily News.. Upon completion, the project which is expected to consume USD 281m (about TZS 604bn) will supply the region with 120m litres daily from Ruvuma river, according to the Permanent Secretary (PS) in the Ministry of Water and Irrigation, Engineer Mbogo Mfutakamba.

The project comes amid the soaring number of industries which gas and oil extraction has triggered in the region and the government’s vision towards the industrial based economy by 2025.

READ: East Africa rising

Speaking to reporters in Dar es Salaam, Engineer Mfutakamba said the governments of Tanzania and China will implement the project, adding that China will finance the project through a soft loan.

The PS was briefing the media on the sidelines of the Energy and Water Utility Regulatory Authority (EWURA) hosted tenth annual conference of the Eastern and Southern Africa Water and Sanitation Regulators Association (ESAWAS). The water sector regulators from the sub-region convened in the city to chart out strategies to improve access to water in the region, in line with the United Nations agreement that requires all member states to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all by 2030.

The PS stated that the technical part of the project, including the feasibility study and evaluation for compensation of potential evictees to pave way for the project, has already been done. He said the signing of financial agreements with China is what has remained before construction works by Chinese contractor start.

“Upon completion, Mtwara will be accessing enough water for industrial and domestic uses … the region currently receives 60m litres daily, but this project alone will supply two times the current amount,” said Engineer Mfutakamba. Among others, Dangote Cement would be the first project beneficiaries. Water and Irrigation Minister Gerson Lwenge said Tanzania was in good position as compared to many African countries in terms of access to clean and safe water, noting that while many countries in 2015 reached an average of 50% of water access in rural and urban areas, Tanzania water access in rural and urban areas stands at 60% and 76%, respectively.

Engineer Lwenge, however, said African countries were still struggling with climate change in efforts to increase water access.

“There is, therefore, a need for all actors at national and regional levels to initiate climate resilient initiatives through investments in innovative water management practices and infrastructural development to mitigate the negative impact of climate change on water,” said the minister.

He touted increased investments in infrastructure expansion, rehabilitation of the existing systems and increased efficiency in existing systems to address the challenges and subsequently achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The project is important for the Mtwara Region as it will support the livelihood of people living in the area with infrastructure under increased pressure from population growth. Mtwara region is becoming a centre of attraction to investors as more seismic acquisition and exploration drilling create demand for specific and specialized services the gas and oil companies.