Kahama, Tanzania



  • The Water and Environmental Development Company, Shinyanga (WEDECO)
  • Bugilo Water Users Association (BWUA)
  • The Kahama Mining Corporation Limited (KMCL).


Project description


Kahama Mining Corporation Limited (KMCL), owned by the Canadian firm Barrick Gold, operated an underground gold mine south of Lake Victoria in the Shinyanga Region of north-western Tanzania. Mining started in mid-2001 and soon became the largest producer of gold in Tanzania.  In 2000 and 2001, as part of its community development programme, KMCL funded the construction of a water and sanitation (watsan) system in the nearby villages of Bugarama and Ilogi.  The water system had two aims: i) to provide watsan services in new housing stock built primarily for KMCL workers; and ii) to provide the two village communities and KMCL workers in the surrounding communities with better quality communal watsan services.  Following the initial installation and operation of the hardware in conjunction with a number of new houses, the medium-term intention of the partnership was to give local residents the skills and capabilities necessary to operate and regulate the watsan services themselves and for the scheme to become financially independent.  Assets were also to be transferred to the local community.




Mining is an important source of revenue and employment for Tanzania and the regions where the mines were being developed at the time of the project are far from the coast and traditionally very poor, with weak government presence and few services provided.


Overall in the country less than 50% of the rural population had access to reliable water supply services.  In 2002, due to poor operational and maintenance arrangements, over 30% of rural water schemes were not functioning properly.  A new national Rural Water and Sanitation Service (RWSS) policy supported a decentralized and demand-responsive delivery mechanism, shifting responsibility for rural water supply services increasingly to the water users, and encouraging local government to work with NGOs and the private sector in order to boost delivery. 


Project beneficiaries


As intended, the primary beneficiaries of the system were the KMCL employees who took advantage of the employee housing scheme in the two villages, and the local village population who lived adjacent to the housing scheme areas.  A choice of yard or private connections was available to individuals having a house constructed under the scheme.  Subsidised standposts were intended to serve poorer segments of the community. 


Objectives and structures of partnership


The partnership between the three organisations arose from the need for KMCL to supply safe water and sanitation services to its workers and thus attract and retain qualified staff - as well as to contribute to the communities in the vicinity of the mine.  There was a contractual relationship between KMCL and WEDECO and a continuous relationship with the community via the recently institutionalised Water User Group (or WUG), BWUA.  Some of KMCLs objectives in forming the partnership were to:


  1. Provide a sustainable and affordable service to both mine workers and surrounding community
  2. Transfer ownership, funding and management of the water facilities to the community by December 2005
  3. Build the necessary capacity in the community to do this
  4. For the watsan service to be financially independent
  5. For KMCL to withdraw from the partnership having successfully transferred the system to local hands.


Roles and responsibilities


At the time of the project, BWUA represented the community, being made up of anyone who drew water from the scheme at both village and kiosk level.  It was represented by an Executive Committee (EC) whose short-term responsibility was to represent community needs, and in the medium-term, to act as either operator or regulator.  KMCL was the donor, paying for the infrastructure, and supporting Bugilo with its institutional development and capacity building.  WEDECO, an expert in delivering rural watsan services in Tanzania, had a remit to operate and maintain the watsan infrastructure and to build local capacity until the point of handover to the community.


Community liaison


Contact between the community and the other partners was evident in the hands-on approach that both KMCL and WEDECO took to strengthen community capacity.  Questions existed around the representativeness of the executive committee, who were formed prior to the integration of the migrant workers into the community, while the miners made up the majority of users.    


Communications and feedback


Stakeholder meetings took place on a regular basis, though regular reports were not circulated more widely.  Communication seemed likely to take place somewhat informally.  More could be understood about communications between partners and communications within the community more generally.


Evolution and institutionalisation


For BWUA to fulfil its posited role as a water user authority (and potentially operator, for which community members received training) the situation needed to evolve.  At the end of the project, the skill level within BWUA was insufficient to manage such a complex system.  An alternative arrangement would have been for a reconstituted BWUA (with appropriate training, a more representative structure, and amended governance structure) to contract an independent operator, similar to the existing arrangement with WEDECO.  In the medium term, KMCL planned to exit the partnership, leaving behind a technically, financially and institutionally robust and sustainable system.




  1. In July 2003, BWUA was granted official registration with the Ministry of Water and Livestock to operate and manage the water supply system for Bugarama and Ilogi villages as outlined in their constitution, although at the time, ownership of the assets and abstraction licences remained with KMCL.
  2. It became clear that BWUA did not have the capacity to operate the system and that they would need to retain an external operator after December 2005
  3. By July 2003, 330 houses had been built, an additional one 100 were under construction, with 600 due for completion by the end of 2005.  Already the payment for water supplied to these houses was suggesting that the watsan system could be financially sustainable. 


The benefit of the service to the wider community was not so successful: demand for piped water outside of the new housing area was limited, especially in areas not close to the kiosks, affected by the wide availability of less clean (and less safe), but nonetheless free, local sources.  This trend led to the closing of five of the twelve new KMCL-funded public kiosks.  It appears that the population that did not reside in or near the new houses either considered the kiosk services too costly, were unaware of the wider health benefits, or simply did not need them.  Further investigation into this was planned, including perhaps more work on health and hygiene education and awareness.




  • The tangible delivery of a quality watsan service
  • Significant national policy alignment
  • Good partner incentives
  • A commitment to community ownership
  • The development of community capacity
  • Demonstration of corporate citizenship
  • Probable financial sustainability.


Next steps and replicability


At the end of the project, there was a need for BWUA to clarify its future roles and responsibilities; at the time it was being developed as both the operator and the regulator of the service.  It was possible however, that as the national RWSS strategy was implemented, regulatory functions could be assumed at district level.  The poor representation of the miners within the EC also needed to be addressed, and a re-election/re-constitution was recommended.  The entire project would have benefited from a more in-depth baseline study to establish quantitative data on existing water supply quality and numbers, and qualitative data on policy alignment and community needs.  Following this, a relevant community engagement programme demonstrating the benefits of the new watsan services may have helped to ensure its use by and benefit to the wider community.  Surplus money from the new scheme could also have beed used to redevelop other water sources and establish water user groups that delivered to the poorest members of the community.  Wider community participation and a focus on participation processes may have helped to increase the community validation of the project.  These recommendations, combined with the introduction of a number of reporting approaches, would have helped to enhance the system's transparency and broader success.


Wider lessons


  1. The importance of community buy-in
  2. Benefits of demand based approaches
  3. Evolution of partner roles and responsibilities
  4. Tradeoffs between the pricing of services and wider development objectives
  5. The need to integrate cross-community issues into planning
  6. The importance of regular monitoring and evaluation
  7. Care is required in legitimising community structures and thorny issues of representativeness
  8. Capacity of communities to manage and operate complex infrastructure needs to be considered 
  9. Small-scale private sector participation in rural settings may not be feasible
  10. The importance of leveraging all locally available skills.