In many sub-Saharan African countries, there are conflicts over water uses in most river basins. In Tanzania, conflicts are becoming alarming and are exacerbated by increasing water demands due to rapid population growth and expanding economic activities. This paper reviews the major constraints and potential for achieving efficient systems of allocating water resources to different uses and users in Tanzania. The following constraints are identified: a) the lack of active community involvement in management of water resources; b) conflicting institutions and weak institutional capacities both in terms of regulations and protection of interests of the poor; c) the lack of data and information to inform policy and strategies for balanced water allocation, and d) inadequate funds for operation, maintenance and expansion of water supply systems. Despite these constraints, there are also opportunities for improving water allocation and management systems in the country. These include: the available reserve of both surface and ground water resources, which remain unexploited; high demand for water services; a high potential for investing in the water sector; and availability of basic infrastructure and elements of institutional framework that can be improved. The paper recommends the use of combined variants of water allocation devices which: a) meet different water requirements and ensure desirable multiple-use outcomes; b) facilitate the classification of water resources in terms of desired environmental protection levels; c) allow reforms in water utilization to achieve equity and meet changing social and economic priorities; d) facilitate the development of effective local institutions; e) put in place the legal system that assigns rights to water resources and describes how those rights may be transferred; f) enforce the rights and punish infringements on those rights; and g) use cost-effective pricing systems to ensure that payment for water uses cover development, operational and management costs.
WaterNET/WARFSA Symposium Proceedings, 30-31 October 2002, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, pp 199-208