Zanzibar’s Ministry of Water, Energy and Minerals says water investments are central to the attainment of the Island’s middle-income status by 2050 as outlined in the Zanzibar Development Vision which provides a long-term planning and trajectory for achieving the vision.
In a statement announcing the Zanzibar Water Conference taking place in September this year, the Ministry says the Zanzibar Development Vision outlines four main pillars including economic transformation, human capital and social services, infrastructural linkages and governance resilience; most of which are linked to investments in water. The 2022 Zanzibar International Water Conference is being convened by Ministry of Water, Energy and Minerals in collaboration with Global Water Partnership Tanzania, the SADC Groundwater Monitoring Institute, University of Dar es Salaam and UNESCO-IHE.
“The projected increase in development activities coupled with impacts of climate change makes it imperative for Zanzibar to develop new ideas, concepts and innovations that provides for opportunities for sustainably increasing water supply while at the same time managing the ever-increasing demand. This is on and above taking appropriate measures to manage the impacts of climate change,” reads part of the statement by Ministry of Water, Energy and Minerals.
Zanzibar depends to a great extent on groundwater resources for water supplies. The geophysical positioning and size of Zanzibar makes it difficult for large rivers to develop and hence the only source of fresh water has often been groundwater. Zanzibar has continued to be vulnerable to impacts of climate change especially through the rise in sea levels that has had significant effect on availability of fresh groundwater supplies.
A recent study by GWP Tanzania’s on the potential of groundwater in Zanzibar, which was supported by the SADC Ground Water Management Institute (GMI) and the Zanzibar Water Authority, highlighted that groundwater remains the major source of water in Zanzibar but that there was continued deterioration of its quality.
For instance, the study revealed that most wells in Unguja, the largest island of the Zanzibar archipelago with a population of close to 900,000 people, have high amounts of dissolved salts in water that are two or four times above the permissible limits.
Following the findings, groundwater potential became a topic of discussion during the Zanzibar High-level Water Investment Conference which took place in March with delegates agreeing that it had high potential and GWPSA chairperson, Tanzania’s former President H.E Kikwete stating; “Our experts just need to prevent pollution and ensure groundwater is being tapped from sources that would last for years.”
As part of solutions to such challenges and to ensure that there are more investments in the water sector, the President of Zanzibar, His Excellency, Ali Hassan Mwinyi launched the Zanzibar Water Investment Programme (2022-2027) during the Zanzibar High-level Water Investment Conference on March 11 this year. The Investment Programme highlights components that require intervention with the view to ensure water security for Zanzibar – with one of the focal areas that require continued support being research and innovation. It is on this understanding that the Zanzibar Water Conference has been established as platform for sharing new insights and innovation in the water sector. Researchers, practitioners, and policy makers from all over the world will participate in the conference where new concepts, ideas and cutting-edge scientific discoveries will be presented and showcased.
Says Dr. Kongo, Executive Director of GWPTZ; “The seven components in the Zanzibar Water Investment Programme provide a fertile ground for more research and scientific discovery in water resources management in Zanzibar such as building climate resilience, gender equality and social inclusion, strengthening institutional arrangements and enabling environment, blue economy, capacity building. One of the ways of ensuring sustained flow of innovative and scientific ideas is having an annual scientific convening on water which will provide an opportunity for interaction amongst key actors in the water sector.”
The conference will be held under the theme Seeing the Unseen: Sustainable Management of Groundwater Resources in a Changing Climate which is in line with the global theme for 2022 World Water Day, as declared by UN Water; “Groundwater – making the invisible visible”.
“There is a convergence between the Zanzibar Conference and UN Water global themes and especially considering the fact that Zanzibar relies on groundwater for water supplies,” reads part of the statement by Zanzibar’s Ministry of water.
Meanwhile, the Ministry is calling for submission of abstracts and proposals for special sessions.
The two-day conference will take place at the Golden Tulip Hotel where it is expected that more than 400 participants will convene for the conference and exhibitions.
For registration, use this link Zanzibar Annual Water Conference (ZaWAC) - Registration