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Tanzania and India strengthen their ties to enhance access to water

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Tanzania and India strengthen their ties to enhance access to water

India and Tanzania have long maintained friendly economic relations. Following their respective independence, both countries embarked on economic reform policies and developed international collaborations. Despite its rapid economic growth, Tanzania faces a water crisis affecting nearly half its population. In this context, a project to improve water supply has been initiated with India.

Manifestation of the water crisis in Tanzania

Tanzania, one of East Africa’s rapidly growing economies, has witnessed an impressive average GDP growth rate of 5.5 % from 2012 to 2021. In contrast, the average growth rate for Africa during that period was only 2.3 %, and 2.7 % for Sub-Saharan Africa.

Even during the 2019 health crisis, Tanzania managed to maintain a 2 % growth rate in 2020 while most African nations were in recession. The government aims to achieve a growth rate of at least 8 % over the next five years. This observation continues with an unemployment rate in Africa forecast to rise for 2024.

The East African nation boasts abundant natural resources. Its geography and climate contribute significantly to fertile soils, making it conducive to agriculture. Three major river basins—Nile, Congo, and Zambezi—cross the country, considered among the longest rivers in Africa. Tanzania also possesses large transboundary lakes such as Malawi, Tanganyika, and Lake Victoria. Several transboundary agreements have improved the management of shared water resources.

Seasonal variability, especially in rainfall patterns, categorizes the country as having moderate water stress. Falkenmark’s water stress indicator measures the scarcity of available renewable water; the threshold of 1700 m³ is used to classify countries experiencing water stress.

For Tanzania, the water stress level is moderate, with a per capita annual water volume of 1680 m³; however, only 13 % is utilized by the population.

Despite these advantages, Tanzania suffers from a water crisis affecting 24 million people, nearly half the population. In addition to a lack of access to clean water, most of the population lacks adequate sanitation facilities, totaling 43 million people.

According to global data on water, sanitation, and hygiene (JMP), 43 % of Tanzanians lack access to clean water. Moreover, women and children must transport water long distances and source it from potentially hazardous ponds, rivers, lakes, or unprotected structures.

Bilateral relations between India and Tanzania

The relations between Tanzania and India have a long history, with strong political engagements that have been centered around shared interests such as anti-colonialism, non-alignment, exchanges between South-South nations, and active participation in numerous international organizations.

Former Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere was awarded the International Understanding Prize in 1974 and the International Gandhi Peace Prize in 1995.

In terms of economic relations, both countries launched economic reform programs and developed international collaborations shortly after the end of the Cold War.

The recent visit of Tanzanian President, Samia Suluhu Hassan, to New Delhi was a significant endeavor carried out by the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, as part of their diplomatic missions in Africa. Indian Minister H.E.M Jaishankar stated that Tanzania is strategically important because it is India’s gateway to the African region.

It is noteworthy that India is Tanzania’s second-largest trading partner and one of its prominent investors.

In 2016, a project to improve water supply was initiated between India and Tanzania, amounting to 92 million USD. Additional funding of 500 million USD is also under consideration. Both countries aim to enhance bilateral cooperation in various sectors, including agriculture, food security, trade, energy, health, education, and telecommunications. In this regard, they have signed four additional agreements, including water resource management and development agreements.

In July 2023, the Indian Foreign Minister inspected the progress of one of the projects and noted that the program’s goal of providing access to clean water for 30,000 households will be achieved by 2024.

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