Sisters of St. Francis - Tanzania: Dignity Health Grantee

Like many poor nations around the world, Tanzania suffers from serious issues involving its people in regards to water.  Only 50 percent of Tanzania’s population of 53 million have access to an improved source of safe water, and only 34 percent of Tanzania’s population has access to improved sanitation. Under these circumstances people, particularly women and girls, spend a significant amount of time traveling some distance to collect water. 

In a nation where one third of the country is arid to semi-arid, it is very difficult for people to find access to clean, sanitary water if they don't live near one of the three major lakes that border the country. As a result, Tanzania's ground water is the major source of water for the nation's people; however it's not always clean. Many of these ground water wells are located near or next to toxic drainage systems, which leak into the fresh ground water and contaminate it. Consequently, Tanzanians turn to surface water which contains things like bacteria or human waste; and people have no choice but to drink from, bathe in or wash their clothes in these areas. According to Tanzania National Website, water-borne illnesses, such as malaria and cholera "account for over half of the diseases affecting the population," because people don't have access to sanitary options.

Diseases stemming from contaminated water aren't the only problem plaguing Tanzanian society. In a household where money is scarce and daughters and mothers have to spend several hours each day walking to get water from pumps, they run the risk of being attacked or raped. TGNP, Tanzanian Gender Networking Program, found in a study of poor households "that the lack of safe, sufficient, and affordable water in Tanzania had increased rates of gender-based violence and the number of girls dropping out of school." Families who don't have money for water, let alone school, have no choice but to send their daughters out to collect water, possibly resulting in these episodes of violence. Unfortunately, the choices of these families are limited, they need water to survive.

The Sisters of St. Francis requested a grant of $25,000 for the construction of a water harvesting system in Biharamulo, Tanzania.  The water system included a tank to store water, as well as gutters to collect water from the roof and pipes needed to move the water to the tank and to the house.  The house in Biharamulo is actually two buildings and both were made ready to collect, store and use rainwater.