Sunday, December 16, 2012

Water for Zanzibar

We, in the West, we forget very often how important the water is and how dangerous is to be out of enough water resources. Without enough water, you may expect wars, epidemics and social unrest. Africa is more exposed to such problems and somehow it is a long topic of deep meditation how it is possible to have so many 'natural' resources, as gold and oil and gas but lack completely the most important one, mainly the water.

Many of us may have heard about the beautiful Zanzibar, but we maybe miss the basic information that only 50% of Tanzania's population has access to affordable drinking water resources. The water suplies from Zanzibar, for instance, reaches only into urban areas. The water rich in impurities and the frequent breakdowns are the rule of the day. The water is brought from the mainland over long distances. There it is also the option of getting the proper supplies by water trucks, but one cannot afford such luxury without stable income. When it comes to the population living in the rural areas, the drinking water is accessed from problematic sources, mostly contaminated rivers. This explains the high rate of infant mortality, due to the widespread incidence of typhoid fevers and various diarrheal diseases. 

There were some small projects developed lately in the area, many if them desalination plants operating on solar and wind power implemented by various German companies. Some of them are already operating in India and Bangladesh and were supported by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). 

The desalination plant can be easily be operated by the local community with the proper know-how transfer. It can produce around 100 liters of clean, potable water per hour. The average operating time per day is of 12 hours. A basic calculation leads to the conclusion that it will be possible to answer the daily needs in terms of water for around 500 persons. 

Most of the projects are based in Zanzibar given the market potential of this location for further business on the African market. The immediate interest for desalination projects was shown by public authorities, hotels and NGOs. On the medium and long term, various businesses and green tourism initiatives may be encouraged to expand their portfolio of activities here. It may represent equally an incentive for German companies to further expand their activities in Africa and to counter the Chinese influence with serious and viable products. There are enough state funds and partnership opportunities available and thus, all what the German companies need is the proper information and inspiration to draft their projects and find the right partners

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