25 Oct 2011

"Undertaking" Tanzania's Water Sector Development Programme?

Screenshot from WaterAid video
I spent two days last week at the annual Joint Water Sector Review meeting - the so-called "highlight" of the annual calendar of "dialogue". This was the sixth such meeting to be held - and I have the "distinction" of having attended all of them. But as you can probably guess from the profusion of "inverted commas" in this paragraph, I'm having serious doubts about the whole exercise. Before I come to that, though, let me give you some background.

Around 250 people from the Ministry of Water, other related government ministries and agencies, the "development partners" and civil society all attended, in the workshop factory that is Ubungo Plaza. All the main stakeholders were there. Apart from water consumers that is, who are only represented in the sense that everyone consumes water. And those consumers (or perhaps I should call them citizens) weren't represented by their official representatives either - no MPs or local councillors attend, with the exception of the Ministers officiating at the formal opening and closing sessions. We civil society folks had to take on that role.

20 Oct 2011

Two great videos on rural water supply

I have two videos to share with you, since I've been in Dar and have therefore had access to a quick enough internet connection to deal with such things.

First up, an excellent short documentary (just over 15 minutes) from my former colleagues at WaterAid Tanzania on the state of the Water Sector Development Programme - on which I will also be writing shortly. Some of this is pretty hard hitting, particularly with many of the most critical comments coming from District Water Engineers and MPs.

13 Oct 2011

Tawasanet's growing pains

The Tanzania Water and Sanitation Network (Tawasanet) has had a pretty challenging year. Their founding chairperson left the network, their replacement passed away a few months later, not long after which the network parted company with its only two employees in an uncomfortable breakup. Relations between the board and member organisations suffered as a result, there is an ongoing court-case, and preparing an annual report and audited financial statements was by all accounts a very challenging process.

It's a shame to see these troubles, as there is still a clear need for a strong national civil society voice in the Tanzanian water and sanitation sector, which is dominated by government, development partners and a few international NGOs. And as we all know, the sector has a lot of problems, many of which are in areas where civil society has a valuable perspective and experience to contribute - reorienting the sector to be more pro-poor and prioritising sustainability, to name just two.

6 Oct 2011

Open government in Tanzania - what are the priorities?

Tz govt commitment to the
OGP (click to enlarge)
The recent news that the Tanzanian government has committed to joining the Open Government Partnership is a positive move by the government. It deserves civil society and media support. The specific commitment - to prepare an Action Plan on open government by March 2012 - is challenging, but achievable if work starts now. 

This has got me thinking. What actions could the government take that would have a positive impact on open government immediately? I've come up with some options, and would love to know what you think.