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Results BriefsNovember 28, 2023

Expanded Access to Water Supply, Sanitation, and Hygiene Services in Tanzania

Water in Tanzania

In less than five years, over 4.7 million people, of whom over 2.3 million are female, have gained access to improved water supplies through Tanzania’s Sustainable Rural Water and Sanitation Program. Further, some 6.6 million people, half of them women and girls, have gained access to improved sanitation facilities; 594 villages have achieved, and sustained, community-wide sanitation status; and 1,904 healthcare facilities and 1,095 primary schools now have access to improved sanitation and handwashing facilities.

Women generally carry the burden of providing water for their families and spend large amounts of time in their day searching for it, often at risk to their safety. Girls are affected too, coopted by their mothers to help. They lose valuable time for school and miss school altogether if facilities have no water access to ensure a healthy menstrual hygiene. Bringing water closer to communities frees up women’s time to engage in income-generating initiatives that can help secure their children’s future and their country’s human capital.

“We used to walk up to nine kilometers to the shallow springs, and it was dark and scary. There are some people who never returned from these trips. Hippos tend to stray far out of the park at night and they are a common threat here, together with hyenas. In the past, you were lucky if you got five buckets of water, and these were strictly for cooking and drinking. Now we don’t have to wake up so early to wait endlessly for water, and we also get enough water to cover all our needs. I can afford to meet my children’s needs comfortably, and I can also afford extra help, with two workers here at the restaurant, and five farmworkers.” - Janet Robert, a wife and mother of three. She lives in Mtisi village, which borders Katavi National Park in western Tanzania.

4,755,578 people

have been provided with access to improved water sources


Water supply and sanitation services contribute to human capital development, social inclusion, poverty reduction, and climate resilience. Access to them in rural Tanzania is lagging. In 2021, access to basic drinking water services was at 74 percent, household sanitation 72 percent, and access to handwashing 41.5 percent. Although some progress has been made over the years, the Government of Tanzania still needs to close quite a large gap. The targets are for 85 percent of the population to gain access to a safely managed water supply and 95 percent to have access to improved sanitation facilities in rural areas by 2025. The government is aiming for access to water and sanitation for all by 2030, aligned with Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) number 6.


The World Bank’s Sustainable Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Program objective is to increase access to rural water supply and sanitation services in participating districts and strengthen the capacity of select sector institutions to sustain service delivery. The program supported the creation and strengthening of the Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency (RUWASA), an agency established to provide services in rural Tanzania, along with Community-Based Water Supply Organizations (CBWSOs). These entities are now the backbone of rural water supply and are critical not only to increase service coverage but also to improve the quality of service and ensure their sustainability. The early success of the program has led to a change in the mindset of people working in water supply and sanitation, away from their former focus on building infrastructure towards being more service-oriented.

Water in Tanzania


The Sustainable Rural Water and Sanitation Services Program has greatly improved the lives of many people in the rural areas of Tanzania. Between October 2018 and April 2023, the program has achieved the following results:

  • 4,755,578 people (2,377,789 of them women) have been provided with access to improved water sources.
  • 6,610,540 people (3,305,270 of them women) gained access to improved sanitation services.
  • 7,422 villages were served by a local water supply organization, a CBWSO, with improved operation and maintenance capacity for water supply services.
  • 1,904 health care facilities were provided with access to improved sanitation and hygiene facilities.
  • 1,095 public primary schools gained access to improved sanitation and hygiene facilities.

Bank Group Contribution

The project was financed by the International Development Association (IDA) in the amount of $650 million and a $4.93 million grant from the Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP).


Tanzanian government departments were instrumental to the implementation of the program, including the Ministry of Water (the lead ministry), Ministry of Education Science and Technology, Ministry of Health, the Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency (RUWASA), and the President’s Office - Regional Administration and Local Government (PO-RALG).

The complementary Program by Results —funded by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office, the other large-scale, donor-supported project in the rural water supply and sanitation sector—closed in September 2022. By the time of closing, it had reached all rural districts in the country, and the functionality of water points had reportedly improved from 30 percent to 52 percent. The program provided many early lessons for the World Bank parent program.

Looking Ahead

One of the key objectives of the project is the sustainability of rural water and sanitation services. This involved the creation of RUWASA and CBWSOs and supporting their financial and technical capacities. Improvements in data systems and in management (accuracy, timeliness, completeness) have resulted in better information on the status of service delivery and on areas that need support. The early success of the program has led to changes in the mindset of people working in rural water and sanitation that go beyond building the infrastructure to ensuring that these services work all the time and, when it comes to water, that the quality and quantity of it are adequate.