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ACRA at the 2013 World Water Week

dimbpozzoTanzaniaACRA will speak at the next edition of the World Water Week organized in Stockholm by the Stockholm International Water Institute (SWI), September 1 to 6, to promote a deeper reflection on the water and on the synergies possible to preserve this precious common good.

The intervention of Serena Arduino, ACRA' responsible for the environmental issues and the right to water, will be entitled "Contamination of Potable Water from Community Land Transactions: A Positive Solution from a Successful Negotiation Process in Tanzania" and will light of the positive experience of ACRA in Tanzania within the workshop "Cooperation Across and Within Jurisdictions and Levels for Good Governance - Local to Global" (September 3, 9:00 to 17:30, Room B8).

Draft of the intervention

A multi-village rural water scheme in southern Tanzania provides potable water to 45,000 people. In 2009 it was discovered that the land upstream of the springs feeding the scheme had been leased to private investors and that the water of the springs had become contaminated due to their agricultural and farming practices, thus becoming unfit for human consumption. The conflict between private investors and water users was resolved in 2011 thanks to a successful negotiation involving several stakeholders. Lessons learned and recommendations from this case are shared.

The water contamination issue was resolved through the cooperation of all stakeholders: NGO, water users' association (WUA), investors, basin authority, district and regional authorities, district councils. The key actor was the WUA, which was able to negotiate with the investors having the basin authority as a mediator. The NGO supported the WUA. Water contamination was framed in terms of violation of the human right to safe and clean water. Interesting insight has come from the literature on land grabbing, right to food, right to safe water, integrity and transparency in the water sector.

The land transaction which assigned the land to private investors – and which eventually caused the contamination of the water – had lacked transparency in a number of ways as well as consultation with relevant stakeholders. This, together with unclear land jurisdiction, scarce resources and unattended procedures, concurred to no precautions being taken to avoid contamination, despite Tanzanian progressive legislation on water source protection. A successful negotiation process reversed the damage done and prescribed to the investors specific precautionary measures linked to integrated land management. To involve the stakeholders in the negotiation, the appropriate entry point had to be found for each of them; e.g., the water user association took several appropriate initiatives as it became aware of water contamination and upon full understanding of its rights and duties; the private land investors agreed to cooperate after scientific data (water analyses) proved that water had been contaminated as a result of agricultural and farming activities on their land and upon formal invitations by the relevant authorities; basin authorities became engaged after the water user association brought the issue to their attention. Lessons learned from this case point to the need for strengthening the overall planning system: stating the obligations of the land investors clearly in the contracts, clarifying jurisdiction issues, increasing technical capacity to produce scientific data (e.g., laboratories for water analyses), conducting risk assessment and environmental impact assessment before implementing projects or starting new operations; coordinating different authorities' input into land transactions.


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