Mikocheni, a neighborhood in Dar es Salaam, is home to four heavily polluted streams that run directly into the Indian Ocean. Untreated industrial and domestic waste is dumped into the waterways upstream, or into storm drains. Environmental Management Trust (EMT) is undertaking a project to monitor and stop this pollution of marine habitats and breaches. The project goals are to make wastewater treatment mandatory for all polluting industries, to stop residential houses from releasing waste from septic tanks into streams, and to ensure that sewers, storm drains and pumping stations are properly maintained to prevent leaks into the stream.
This pollution poses a direct health risk to children who play in the streams as well as to cattle that graze on the banks of the streams and drink from the streams. Blacksmith Institute visited Tanzania in 2001 and, after conferring with local NGOs, helped to found Environmental Management Trust (formerly Clean Mikocheni Trust) with the mandate to monitor waterway and sewage pollution in the Mikocheni area of Dar es Salaam.
Since the project’s inception, EMT has conducted water analysis, met with local government officials, informed home owners about pollution hazards, and determined the sources of both domestic and industrial pollution.
EMT has determined that a major contributing factor is a collapsed sewer infrastructure which needs to be refurbished and extended. In 2003, the Government of Tanzania began a $164.6 million project of renovation and expansion of the Dar es Salaam sewage system. Therefore, the group now works with the Dar es Salaam Water and Sewerage Authority (DAWASA) to develop a cleanup strategy for industrial and domestic wastewater pollution and to carry out physical inspection of the sewerage system to ensure that DAWASA carries out the needed renovations according to plan. EMT also works with the Ministry of Health and the National Environmental Management Council (NEMC) to inspect industries suspected of pollution.
So far, the renovation of one of Mikocheni’s sewer lines has been completed, preventing wastewater overflows or other leakage from manholes to the streams. Some residents have also voluntarily renovated and lined their pit latrines so as to prevent leakage. These are major steps forward in curbing pollution to the streams.
EMT will continue to scrutinize DAWASA project plans for sewage renovation and to compare these plans to the actual work being undertaken (and required) on the ground. Particular attention will be paid to proper renovation of all manholes, replacement of old sewer lines, rehabilitation of pumping station, and expansion of waste stabilization ponds.
In addition, EMT will conduct an analysis of solid waste mismanagement in an unplanned area of Mikocheni, this despite the availability of private contractors responsible for waste removal. Domestic waste is being dumped into streams, stream valleys, and on to roads. This causes blockage of storm water drains and pollution of the beach area.