Katuma: River of Contradiction| 16mins
Director: Nick Neumann | Producer: Nick Neumann
Focus Years: 2013 | Country: United States
In Tanzania, water is not just a basic human need, it is a most vital resource that permeates every facet of society. Water ties people, communities, industry and wildlife together within a complex interconnected network. More than any other resource, it determines the livelihood and well-being of families, villages and entire regions; as such the inextricable link between water access and poverty is more visible here than almost anywhere else in the world. The relationship is complex, but at the same time simple to understand, boiling down to the fact that access to adequate amounts of clean water is essential for maintaining good health and access to water for agriculture is essential for food production.
In recent years in Mpanda, Tanzania's access to water has actually been decreasing despite decades of national and international efforts to improve it. This can be attributed to various human factors and environmental changes. As Mpandaâ€™s population continues to increase, and investment into water infrastructure remains minimal at best, it appears as if the situation will only get worse. This will have devastating ramifications for the majority of Mpanda residents, who rely on crop production to support their family. It is also bad news for the women and children who already spend many hours each day collecting water for use in the home. Water collection and water-borne diseases contribute greatly to the loss of manpower on the farm and children unwillingly forgoing their education. Furthermore, diminishing water levels could also spell a sharp decline in tourists, and the money they inject into the local economy. The fatal effects on the wildlife in neighboring Katavi National Park are clear to see, especially in the declining population of hippos, the key attraction of the park.
Poverty can be a result of political instability and ethnic conflict, but in peaceful Tanzania the greatest cause of poverty is the lack of access to water. My project follows the Katuma River, the lifeline of the region, from its Katuma River source downstream past Mpanda town until the entrance of Katavi National Park. It explores the dynamic role of water in Tanzanian society with regard to poverty through interviews with villagers, officials and experts that were conducted while studying abroad with the School of International Training. Ultimately, with this project I hope to draw attention to the importance of water in the development of societies and garner support to a region that desperately needs it.