The anticipated tabling of a bill in Parliament that will see the eventual creation of the Rural Water Agency (Ruwa) should be cause for jubilation.

In spite of Tanzania’s impressive economic development over the years, many people – especially those residing in rural areas – lack steady access to clean water.

In areas where there have been attempts to establish clean water for rural communities, the efforts have predictably ended in failure either as a result of infrastructure being vandalised or the funds set aside for the purpose being misappropriated by unruly officials.

No wonder President John Magufuli directed that all water experts in municipalities report directly to the Permanent Secretary in the ministry of Water and Irrigation to rein in on council officials who are charged with supervising water projects but who continue to fail in that regard.

As the President noted, only strict supervision of water projects and funds allocated to the same would ensure success.

The lack of a clear organisational structure in the past meant that council engineers, who were not directly accountable to the PS, were left to do as they wished, leading to loss of funds allocated to ensuring access to the precious liquid.

Like the Rural Energy Agency (REA) – which is in charge of the Rural Electrification Programme – has begun bearing fruit, Ruwa has the potential to bring sanity to the sector and end the perennial water woes that have become part of rural Tanzania.

Just as energy is crucial for driving economic development, water is paramount to every sphere of life. In a world where rain-fed agriculture continues to fail, irrigation continues to be a solution to productivity in the sector.

But irrigation will only be successful with the development of rural water sources and infrastructure to achieve both food security as well as produce for commercial purposes.