Tanzania has made significant progress in improving access to drinking water and sanitation services, but a large proportion of the population still has no access to these services. In 2015, about 50% of the country’s 53 million people still lacked access to basic water supply and 76% had no access to sanitation services (WHO and UNICEF, 2017) [1].

In 2013, health-related costs associated with unsafe water and sanitation in Tanzania were estimated to be about $10 billion and $7.6 billion, respectively (Roy, 2016). Poor people living in informal settlements are especially vulnerable to heavy rains and diseases that spread in the wake of floods[1].


The increasing frequency and intensity of climate related events exacerbate water pollution and need to be considered. Climate change does not only affect water availability by causing floods and droughts, but also water quality. Heavier rains, expected in parts of the country because of climate change, will increase flooding and runoff and the associated water quality deterioration. Conversely, extended hot and dry periods will boost water demand and decrease water supply. The depletion of aquifers lowers the water table and leads to the intrusion of salt water into fresh water bodies, degrading water quality and threatening their long-term viability as a water source[1].

The main contaminants effecting water quality in Tanzania are the rapid and unplanned growth of urban areas, the domestic wastewater often discharged directly into streams due to lack of sewerage facilities and the inadequate solid waste management, as well as industrial effluents and farming [1].


Key policies and governance approach

The Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children (MoHCDGEC) is responsible for setting water monitoring regulations and standards and for drafting legislation to manage the water sector. It also provides guidelines and technical assistance to local authorities on the provision of sanitation and hygiene services[1]. The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology coordinates science and hygiene services in schools, while the President's Office of Regional Administration and Local Government (PO-RALG) handles the provision of sanitation and hygiene activities in schools. PO-RALG is responsible for LGAs to be entrusted with providing sanitation and hygiene at the local level, in consultation with MoHCDGEC [1].

The National Water Policy of 2002 promotes the sustainable development of the sector and its expansion to reach more Tanzanians, and provides a comprehensive framework for sustainable development and management of the Nation’s water resources. Moreover, in 2006, the government adopted the National Water Sector Development Strategy, the biggest sector-wide approach to planning in Sub-Saharan Africa, which led to the reorganization of the sector. The National Water Sector Development Strategy (NWSDS) sets out how the Ministry responsible for

Water will implement the National Water Policy to achieve the NSGRP (MKUKUTA) targets: four ministries bear the fiscal and implementation responsibility for sanitation and hygiene at the national level [1].


Successes and remaining challenges  

It is estimated that Tanzania spends 70 per cent of its health budget on preventable WASH-related diseases as the majority of the population does not have access to improved sanitation, and close to half of the population does not have access to clean drinking water [2]


Initiatives and Development Plans

Both Vision 2025 and The Second Five Year Development Plan (FYDP II) have targets that are water-related [2].

Moreover, UNICEF is working with the Tanzanian government and development partners on four priority WASH areas: to ensure access to improved sanitation and hygiene in rural and peri-urban communities through the Communityled Total Sanitation approach; develop sustainable solutions for provision of WASH facilities in health and educational institutions, and assist in framing national WASH guidelines and toolkits for effective implementation of WASH services; ensure sustainable and equitable access to safe drinking water in rural and periurban areas; and provide effective response in emergencies to prevent the spread of diseases due to poor sanitation, unhygienic living conditions and unsafe drinking water [2].

At the same time, in 2016, facilitated a Tanzania market assessment to evaluate the country’s readiness for our WaterCredit solution. Results found that Tanzania offers a significant market opportunity and demand to launch WaterCredit due to its fast-growing economy and use of digital finance. The orgasnisation began piloting water and sanitation lending programs with a commercial bank, Equity Bank Tanzania, in September 2017 [3]

Moreover, the Tanzania WASH Poverty Diagnostic is part of a multi-partner Global WASH Poverty Diagnostic Initiative being implemented in 18 countries across regions. Its objectives are to highlight the priority gaps in WASH access; identify those regions and population groups that are most deprived of higher-quality WASH services; demonstrate how investment in WASH can aid poverty reduction and human development strategies; and identify the major institutional constraints that hold back effective WASH service delivery [4].


Goals and Ambitions

As part of its Vision 2025, the Government of Tanzania has pledged to increase access to improved sanitation to 95 per cent by 2025. The Second Five Year Development Plan (FYDP II) has also set the target for access to improved sanitation facilities at 85 per cent in rural areas [2].



  • Integrating the SDG framework into poverty-reduction strategies and water and sanitation programmatic approaches such as Water Sector Development Program II;
  • Making further investment in rural water and sanitation and ‘celebrating maintenance’ to enhance sustainability in the future;
  • Addressing utility inefficiencies, the growth in dependence on informal private providers, and the need for expanded regulation;
  • Formulating more coherent policy, more clearly define and assign responsibilities for sanitation, and identify sanitation champions;
  • Adopting, in urban areas, citywide sanitation approaches that recognize that different solutions are suitable in different contexts;
  • Designing WASH interventions with a ‘nutrition-sensitive’ lens and seek to integrate WASH into multi-sectoral strategies addressing education, health, and nutrition outcomes.
  • Facilitating efficient, transparent, and predictable financial flows between water and sanitation services actors—from donor, to government, to community—to promote sustainable governance.

[1] World Bank Group. 2019. Tanzania 2019 Country Environmental Analysis : Environmental Trends and Threats, and Pathways to Improved Sustainability. World Bank, Washington, DC. © World Bank. License: CC BY 3.0 IGO.

[2] UNICEF. Water, sanitation and hygiene – Tanzania.

[3] Tanzania’s water and sanitation crisis.

[4] The World Bank (2018). Improving Water Supply and Sanitation Can Help Tanzania Achieve its Human Development Goals.