Are Entrepreneurs the Answer to Tanzania's Water Crisis?
On the 26th of June of this year the World Bank approved a loan of $350 million USD to improve Tanzania's water supply and sanitation. In a country where nearly half of the population lack access to clean water, is this finally the answer to Tanzania's water crisis? History would suggest otherwise.
Between 2003 and 2010 the World Bank invested $164 million USD in a Tanzanian water and sanitation project, a project which was later described by NGO Civil and Political Rights Watch (CPRW) as a "complete disaster".
Despite continued efforts from the government and the World Bank, the fact is that between 1999 to now the percentage of people in Tanzania with access to clean water has barely changed at all.
How is this possible? Some blame inefficient spending and lack of accountability, others suggest that solutions are simply not sustainable. After all, who will pay for the upkeep of the water pump once the money runs out?
For Randy Welsch, cofounder of Jibu along with his son, the answer is a lack of "skin in the game". Randy believes what is needed is a ground up approach led by local entrepreneurs. Their “Business-in-a-Box” franchise model enables entrepreneurs to open their own Jibu stores, creating job opportunities while also providing their community with clean bottled water for less than $0.10 per litre.
Since its inception in 2012, Jibu has successfully expanded across Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Zimbabwe and in 2017 the first Jibu store was opened in Arusha, Tanzania by entrepreneur Tayeb Noorbhai.
While access to clean water is a challenge across Tanzania, the people living in Arusha face a particularly unique problem. Too much fluoride in water can cause premature aging, bow legs, fragile bones, dental and skeletal fluorosis and other permanent body disfigurements.
The World Health Organisation recommends 1.5 milligram of fluoride per litre of water, yet in Arusha the fluoride concentration can reach as high as 30 milligrams per litre.
In other parts of Tanzania, boiling water can serve as an effective, if not costly and time consuming, way of treating water. However, boiling water does nothing to remove the fluoride, which is why the impact of Jibu in Arusha is even more significant.
In partnership with Anza, a Business Accelerator based in Tanzania, 3rd Creek Foundation is investing $20,000 to assist Tayeb Noorbhai to open up an additional two Jibu stores, following the success of his first store.
Will the World Bank’s $350 million-dollar loan solve Tanzania’s water crisis? We certainly hope so.
However, with Jibu Tanzania on track to providing clean water to over four hundred thousand households by 2022, we know who our money’s on.
Anza is a Business Accelerator providing entrepreneurs in Tanzania with the capacity, capital and community they need to thrive. They specialise in high impact sectors including: clean energy, healthcare, education, agriculture and Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH).