Tanzania is at an advanced stage of drafting a new legal framework for water resources management, aimed at attaining the objectives of the National Water Policy of 2002. Three separate pieces of legislation will result from the proposed legal framework to cover water resources management, rural water supply and urban water supply and sewerage. This paper discusses the government's efforts in trying to fix property regimes and formalizing informal arrangements related to the use of water resources. The paper traces historically the process of formalising customary laws, then presents four case studies that display interactions between traditional water management systems and the modern, formal systems. The paper also contains a discussion of the proposed policy and legal changes focusing on the extent to which the proposed legislative dispensation will protect the existing traditional or customary water rights. It is argued that, despite the early initiatives at providing space for the growth of customary law, the legal system pertaining in Tanzania today is tilted more in favour of formal than informal systems.
International workshop on ‘African Water Laws: Plural Legislative Frameworks for Rural Water Management in Africa’, 26-28 January 2005, Johannesburg, South Africa. IWMI, Pretoria, 12 pp.