Laws for Access to and Management of Drinking Water in Tanzania

Leticia K. Nkonya
PhD Candidate,
Department of Sociology,
Anthropology and Social Work
Kansas State University
2740 Hartland Road, Apt T-1
Vienna, VA 22180, USA


Increasing human population, economic development and climatic changes in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) have fuelled water scarcity, hence there is an urgent need for effective water management laws and institutions. Unfortunately, national and local governments rarely possess enough personnel or money to enforce their laws adequately. In SSA countries formal water management laws and institutions tend to ignore the customary laws and institutions. Additionally, local communities both filter and ignore formal laws and institutions and use their customary laws and institutions to manage their water resources.

Despite their importance, there are only few empirical studies on customary laws and institutions for water management in SSA. This study attempts to fill this gap by analysing the impact of customary (informal) laws on water management in Tanzania and show how they might be used to complement the statutory (formal) laws for management of drinking water in rural Tanzania. The study will use both qualitative and quantitative methods to achieve this objective.

This study found that customary laws and institutions are the most influential in water access, prevention of pollution and abuse of water. The awareness of the customary and water user group laws was also generally high, perhaps due to the participatory nature of those institutions. The study also found that statutory laws were important for water development issues but community awareness of these laws was low. These results suggest the need of using both customary and statutory laws since the two instruments complement each other.

Bariadi, customary laws, decentralisation, prevention of water pollution, statutory laws, Sukuma, Tanzania, water management, water access, water development.             LEAD Journal - ISSN 1746-5893