Changing the entire water system
Anthony Sanga is an engineer and water and sanitation specialist from the United Republic of Tanzania.
Earning a Bachelor degree in water supply management in his home country before completing a Master's degree in water service management in the Netherlands, Eng Anthony has now been working in the water sector for 16 years.
Previously the managing director of the Mwanza Urban Water Supply and Sanitation Authority, he is now the deputy permanent secretary of the Ministry of Water, the United Republic of Tanzania.
Aquatech Online caught up with Eng Sanga on the sidelines of the World Water Tech Summit. A summary of the interview can be read below.
Aquatech Online (AO): You spent many years working for the biggest water utility in Tanzania - what do you see as your key achievements during that time?
Eng Anthony Sanga (AS): I would say my biggest achievement when I was working as a managing director was to accomplish a number of significant projects on time and of good quality. These were supported by different financiers and also the government so it was important that they were completed successfully. Some were opened by his excellence, our President, and he was impressed by what he witnessed.
AO: You have mentioned a leakage target of 20 per cent for non-revenue water. Is this realistic?
AS: Through my experience of more than 15 years working in the water utilities, I have found that sometimes you have a challenge of dealing with water leakage but you have to think of it as part of the whole system. Sometimes we deal with the issue by applying technologies but they don't always work.
The way leakage is handled in Germany, England and Netherlands, for example, might be different from the way it has to be handled in developing countries, particularly in countries like Tanzania.
There we find ageing infrastructure of more than 50-60 years. You find the mindset of the people, the workers of the utility and the management itself needs to change. These are all issues to tackle. It’s not just having some advanced technology to come and fight for leakage control, sometimes that doesn't work.
AO: In terms of the long-term future strategy for Tanzania’s water sector, how do you view tariffs and increases in tariffs necessary to help address ageing infrastructure?
AS: Tariffs would not be the solution because people start complaining. Yes, increase tariffs but would this stop the non-revenue water? No. You have to improve the infrastructure so we need financing for that, I agree with you. But after we have done, if we have taken the loan, then you can adjust the tariffs, so we need both. Tariffs do not come first; improvements following financing must come first.
AO: You've mentioned about improving basic infrastructure so what solutions do you need - where do you see there being a gap that hasn’t been filled with a much-needed solution?
AS: Technology cannot go backward, it has to go forward. We really need this especially for the infrastructure. If you can name one system where it can show you there is a pressure drop somewhere within your system, it would definitely be easier for you to detect that there is a leak somewhere.
We need also water quality control monitoring so you can know exactly how much we are treating and of what quality. So, if we get the quality monitoring tools at the treatment plant, it's also good for us to manage. On the other hand, by just relying on people measure to it, sometimes they might make a human error. As a result, I think there’s a need for more [monitoring] equipment and systems for this reason.
AO: Given your utility engineering background, if you could articulate your vision for the next ten years of the water sector in Tanzania, how would you describe it in one sentence?
AS: Improve the coverage and reduce the non-revenue.