African Barrick Gold has invested $2 million towards a project that will bring fresh water to tens of thousands of people in rural northwest Tanzania.
The funds will help pay for a 60-kilometer pipeline that will supply fresh water to the Geita and Kahama districts near African Barrick’s Bulyanhulu mine.
“Water and access to fresh water is a fundamental human right,” said African Barrick Gold Chief Executive Greg Hawkins. “Considering the hardships our communities face accessing fresh water on a daily basis, water is one of our key developmental focus areas.”
At the best of times, water in these districts is scarce, and the region is currently enduring drought conditions after a below-average wet season. The new pipeline will help mitigate many health challenges rooted in the lack of fresh water. Malaria, acute-respiratory infections, anemia and diarrhea are leading causes of death in the region, according to Tanzania’s National Bureau of Statistics.
While Tanzania is bordered by the largest fresh-water lake in Africa, many areas remain dry due to the lack of infrastructure. On average, women and children spend over two hours a day collecting water while journeys of six to seven hours are not unusual in some rural areas, according to the non-profit organization WaterAid.
The pipeline will transport fresh water to villages in the two districts from the main water transmission infrastructure operated by the Kahama Shinyanga Water Supply and Sewage Authority. All told, an estimated 150,000 people will benefit from the pipeline.
The project went forward after a memorandum of understanding between the Bulyanhulu mine and the district councils was signed in July. The total cost of the project won’t be determined until a feasibility study is completed in December. It will take about three years to build the pipeline.
This is the second major water project sponsored by the Bulyanhulu mine. The mine previously made a substantial investment in construction of a water pipeline from Lake Victoria to the Bugarama ward, where the mine is located.