From Arusha… on field experience, By MSc student Shabana Abbas


Since I arrived in Arusha, I found something strikingly beautiful about this city and the many things that it has to offer besides the sunshine. It is not a city like Dar es Salaam or Mwanza as one would imagine, the largest cities of Tanzania. Arusha is a small, green and cosy city with the magnificent Mount Meru.  The friendliness and eagerness of people to help me with my research has completely overwhelmed me. I was happily surprised that some of the people were very positive and open in sharing their knowledge and experiences with me.

In my first weeks, I learned that the service coverage of the urban water authority (AUWSA) in the city was very low-somewhere around 44%. I was curious to know how people were managing their water needs if this was the case. My fieldwork in Unga and Sombetini areas allowed me to see that people were partially depending on boreholes and wells to meet their needs despite piped water connections from AUWSA. I wondered if this is the result of failure to get reliable water supply from AUWSA or is it because piped connections are expensive. Or is the situation merely because of the failure of AUWSA to supply sufficient water due to its own challenges? I am still struggling to find answers to these questions.

The most encouraging thing to know is that the local people think that my research and overall T-GroUP’s research will really benefit the city in managing its groundwater resources. By meeting people from varied backgrounds and interests, I have been able to understand some common perspectives on groundwater and the challenges faced by the authorities managing it. A British-Tanzanian family, owner of large coffee plantations in the city was able to tell me how historically there were no boreholes in the city and it has only been a recent phenomenon that people own boreholes. Insights like these are prompting me more to find out about the transitions that have taken place in the city over the years and the factors behind it. Moreover, the discussions are helping me put together the puzzle of urban groundwater governance for my research.


Tanzania breweries

Shabana with the staff of Tanzania Breweries Limited, one of the largest users of groundwater in Arusha city


City Council

Shabana during her interview with City Water Engineer at Arusha city council