Is Tap Water Safe in Tanzania?

Tanzania is considered to be water abundant, however, heterogeneous climate and geology contribute to significant seasonal, inter-annual, and geographic variability in water availability and water quality challenges. Tap water in Tanzania is generally not safe to drink.

In different parts of the country some people do drink and use direct tap water for their daily activities, while other parts one may find the water salty like in the coastal areas. The government has put safe water supply sources, and when moving around people are urged to drink bottled water only, also use bottled water to clean teeth. This emphasis comes about due to measures set for citizens hygiene purposes. Bottled water is available all over in shops, stalls and supermarkets. One can also get bottled water at hotels and restaurants, though it is cheaper to stock-up with bottles bought at shops / stalls. Only 61% of households in Tanzania currently have access to a basic water-supply, 32% have access to basic sanitation, and 48% have access to basic hygiene.

Tanzania has significant water sources with three major bodies of freshwater including Lake Tanganyika, Lake Nyasa, and Lake Victoria, the last being the second largest lake by surface area in the world. There are also several smaller lakes and a vast number of rivers which run throughout the country. Apart from that, People also ask if it’s safe to drink tap water in Zanzibar. Tap water in Zanzibar is not safe to drink; health officials strongly recommend sticking to bottled water, which is widely available across the island. This includes avoiding ice in your drinks and eating salads which may have been washed in the tap water.

If you’re planning to visit Tanzania on tour or holiday, do use bottled water for safety measures and to make sure you enjoy your stay.

There is a huge demand of water within the country in key sectors for surface and groundwater which include agriculture, animal husbandry, hydropower, and mining, while environmental flow requirements are also generally high due to the significant coverage of key nature reserves. The government has been pushing for groundwater quality monitoring systems which so far need to be strengthened to protect the public from utilizing contaminated water sources. Naturally high concentrations of fluoride and arsenic reduce groundwater quality, particularly in the Rift Valley, and pose public health risks.

Increased abstraction and impoundment of surface water for flood irrigation and hydropower in the Pangani and Rufiji Basins have disrupted river flow regimes, reduced seasonal surface water availability, and threaten biodiversity. Agricultural and mining runoff, untreated municipal and industrial wastewater, and inadequate sanitation systems degrade surface and groundwater quality. With these and many more reasons are as to why one should take and use bottled water while visiting the country to avoid any health problems.

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