Journal of
African Studies and Development

  • Abbreviation: J. Afr. Stud. Dev
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2141-2189
  • DOI: 10.5897/JASD
  • Start Year: 2009
  • Published Articles: 238

Full Length Research Paper

Groundwater conflicts or disputes? Experience from Mbarali District in Tanzania

Samwel J. Kabote
  • Samwel J. Kabote
  • Department of Development Studies, College of Social Sciences and Humanities, Sokoine University of Agriculture, Morogoro, Tanzania.
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Johnson L. Gudaga
  • Johnson L. Gudaga
  • Department of Community Development, Amani College of Management and Technology, Njombe, Tanzania.
  • Google Scholar

  •  Received: 12 May 2018
  •  Accepted: 08 June 2018
  •  Published: 31 July 2018


This article examines conflicts and or disputes attributed to ineffectiveness of groundwater governance. The study adopted sequential exploratory research design. A random sample of 90 water users was involved in the survey. The key informants and focus group discussions were used to collect qualitative data. Content analysis was used to analyze qualitative data. Frequency and percentage distribution of the responses were computed by using Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS). The results show that 43 (47.7%) of the sample experienced groundwater disputes, between and or among water users themselves, or between groundwater governance structures, at least in the previous five years since 2013. This is attributed to poor governance and failure of the actors in abiding to the guidelines of the Water Resource Management Acts of 2009 (WRMA), particularly lack of transparency, destruction of water pumps and unequal distribution of water among groundwater users. Some disputes were resolved successfully at water users’ level, while those occurred between governance structures were difficult to resolve. The article concludes that there was poor groundwater governance and therefore disputes occurred. The disputes could develop into conflicts if continue unabated. Therefore, the article recommends strengthening of groundwater governance in abiding to the Acts. It also recommends a comprehensive governance structural arrangement, formal and informal institutions to enhance groundwater governance, specifically resolving groundwater disputes to avoid conflicts in future.   


Key words: Groundwater, disputes, conflicts, governance, structures, Tanzania.