Jump to Content or Main Navigation

Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools

Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools

Daily Usage: Tanzania

Water in Africa

Africa, Tanzania


by Lorie Burnett, Korogwe, Tanga Region, Tanzania

I use water here for the same things I do in the United States—drinking, cooking, bathing, washing clothes, and watering plants. The difference is that I am much more conscious of how much I use here, since it is a valuable commodity. For about two months of my first year here, there was no water coming out of the taps. I had to keep my two 100-liter storage containers filled with water and I paid people to carry water from the tap at school (about half a kilometer away). I became acutely aware of how much water I used! Even when it's not the dry season, I try to find multiple uses for the same water. I water the trees I've planted outside with dishwashing water. I flush the toilet with bath water or water I've used to wash clothes. When I shower I catch water in a basin. I try to use water sparingly.

When my sister came to visit, we stayed in fancy hotels for a few days and I indulged myself in a few baths (something I used to love at home). But I didn't enjoy it as much because I kept thinking about how much water I was using, and what a waste it was! I'm quite sure that I use only a fraction of the water I'd use at home—cold showers just aren't as leisurely as warm baths—and I'm sure that washing clothing in buckets uses less water than a washing machine.

by Gary Port, Morogoro (Mzumbe), Tanzania

For me, water use isn't much different here than back in the United States. In my home here, I have a flush toilet that actually uses more water than a gallon flush toilet back home, and I take showers daily, although with only cold water. Laundry takes up most of my water during the rinse—about 10 gallons for one small load.

In my community, many teachers at my school have fields with corn, tomatoes, banana trees, and other plants. They usually water them with a hose and sprinkler, or else they dig small irrigation trenches and turn on the faucet.

People here use water to clean floors (kupiga deki, which means to hit the deck). After sweeping the concrete floors, a towel is soaked and used to mop up.

At school during the dry seasons, students have to fill buckets of water and wet the dirt patches so not a lot of dust is stirred up.

We also use quite a lot of water in my chemistry lab (usually distilled water) for experiments and cleaning up.

I haven't yet seen kids having water fights, or running through sprinklers. Maybe it hasn't occurred to them. I've seen some Tanzanians swim in the river, but it seems to be rare.

A dam was built in my town a few year ago and the reservoir is now used to raise fish to sell in the market. 

World Wise Speakers

Invite a Peace Corps volunteer into your classroom to share what it's like to live a global life by sharing stories, cultures and knowledge.