The fight for safe water

Global issues such as climate change and rapid urbanisation are placing even greater strain on one of the world’s most precious finite natural resources, water. How can we improve access to clean water in water scarce countries like Tanzania? We speak with Chevening Scholar, Oscar Timothy.

The human right to safe drinking water entitles everyone, without discrimination, to have access to sufficient, sanitised, safe water. But for many people around the world, including in regions of Tanzania, this fundamental human right isn’t being met.

It was this fact that prompted Chevening Scholar Oscar Timothy to study Water, Sanitation and Health Engineering at the University of Leeds.

Why is this topic important to you?

I want to see a future where every Tanzanian, regardless of their social stand, has access to quality and adequate drinking water.

While water, sanitation and hygiene (WaSH) issues have been almost entirely eradicated in the Global North (developed countries), the Global South (developing countries) are still experiencing tremendous suffering from preventable WaSH-related diseases.

Why?

Rapid urbanisation which is taking place in most cities in the Global South is causing increased demand on the already overwhelmed WaSH services.

Climate change is causing flooding and droughts, which is contaminating water supplies and damaging the natural environment.

Finally, the Covid-19 pandemic has placed even greater pressure on public health services around the world. The effects are being felt worst in countries where these systems were already under immense strain.

I passionately believe that these challenges need an immediate response and practical solutions.

What attracted you to the WaSH Engineering course at the University of Leeds?

When researching which course to study, I focused first and foremost on the skills I wanted to develop. My aim has always been to enhance my skills as a public health engineer, so that I can go on to develop effective policies for solving complex WaSH issues when I return home to Tanzania. In order to achieve this, I knew I’d need inter-disciplinary technical and problem-solving skills, and to be able to build on my knowledge of designing engineering interventions.

WaSH Engineering at the University of Leeds has not only taught me new skills, but it has also allowed me to engage with leading experts from different internationally recognised organizations and charities working in this critical area, such as World Bank, World Health Organization, World Vision and WaterAid.

What are your aspirations for the future? 

After completing my masters degree in the UK, I intend to use what I’ve learnt to bring positive change to the WaSH sector.

Providing access to clean water for millions of people in Tanzania will require sustainable WaSH infrastructure and complex design engineering interventions. This is where I intend to focus my efforts.

I will also maximize WaSH research projects that seek to enhance the living standards of the resource constrained population in my home country.

By doing so, I hope to be able to give many more people in Tanzania the basic human right to safe drinking water.

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