Assessing the Viability of Desalination for Rural Water Supply: A Case Study of Chwaka, Zanzibar

Roy Yu, Daniele Packard


Zanzibar has been struggling with water scarcity issues over the last few decades due to an increase in consumption on the island and a deterioration of existing supply infrastructure. Poor distribution has affected rural communities most, due to their absence of tourism development, which has gone hand in hand with infrastructure establishment. Foreign aid has begun to address the issue by investing in alternative forms of water supply. In November 2011, a solar and wind powered desalination unit was inaugurated in the village of Chwaka, which, previous studies have shown, suffers from salt contaminated wells. This study sought to assess the viability of this alternative source of water in Chwaka and found that the desalination unit installed is not a viable source of freshwater for the entire village of Chwaka compared to government piped well water. Installed with the best intentions for the people of Chwaka, the presence and purpose of the machine is unknown to most of the village and its production capacity could only hope to supplement drinking water. Relative investment costs of distributing similar volumes of water show that piped water is the cheaper option. The intentions of the project are nonetheless laudable and this type of innovative investment should be encouraged as long as the government is not asked to take the bill. Zanzibar has access to adequate freshwater resources and must look to efficient consumption before turning to alternative forms of water production.

Key words: Advantages; Alternative; Chwaka; Desalination; Disadvantages; Drinking; Freshwater; Supply; Tanzania; Viability; Water; Zanzibar


Advantages; Alternative; Chwaka; Desalination; Disadvantages; Drinking; Freshwater; Supply; Tanzania; Viability; Water; Zanzibar


Becker, N., Lavee, D., & Katz, D. (2010). Desalination and Alternative Water-Shortage Mitigation Options in Israel: A Comparative Cost Analysis. Scientific Research, (2), 1042-1056.

Brannan, P. (2008). Debunking Desalination - The “Miracle Process” that can’t Cure the World’s Water Woes. E Magazine, (3/4), 16-18.

Conway, M. (2008). The Desalination Solution. The Futurist, (5-6), 23-24.

HALCROW Consulting Engineers. (1994). Government of Zanzibar Ministry of Water Construction Energy Lands and Environment. The Development of Water Resources in Zanzibar Final Report.

Hansson, E. (2010). Groundwater on Zanzibar -- Use and Pollutants. University of Gothenburg, Sweden.

Semiat, R. (2008). Energy Issues in Desalination Processes. Environmental Science & Technology, 44(22), 8193. Retrieved from

Shah, A.S. (2003). Value of Improvements in Water Supply Reliability in Zanzibar Town. Yale University, School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, USA.

Slade, L., Ali, T., Hajj, M., & Salum, N.M. (2012). Water Equity in Tourism: Zanzibar Case Study. Mwambao Coastal Community Network.

Suileman, S.S. (2011, August 23). Participatory Model for Water Supply and Sanitation in Zanzibar – Tanzania. Presentation from the 2011 World Water Week. Stockholm, Sweden.

Sultan, A. (2011, November 15). Shamhuna Inaugurates Desalination Plant. Daily News.

Villholth, K.G. (2008). Cleaning Wells After Seawater Flooding. International Water Management Institute. Retrieved from

Wagner, L. (2007). Water Desalination-Tap into the

Liquid Gold. Mora Associates.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2012 Roy Yu, Daniele Packard

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Share us to:   


  • How to do online submission to another Journal?
  • If you have already registered in Journal A, then how can you submit another article to Journal B? It takes two steps to make it happen:

1. Register yourself in Journal B as an Author

  • Find the journal you want to submit to in CATEGORIES, click on “VIEW JOURNAL”, “Online Submissions”, “GO TO LOGIN” and “Edit My Profile”. Check “Author” on the “Edit Profile” page, then “Save”.

2. Submission

  • Go to “User Home”, and click on “Author” under the name of Journal B. You may start a New Submission by clicking on “CLICK HERE”.
  • We only use four mailboxes as follows to deal with issues about paper acceptance, payment and submission of electronic versions of our journals to databases:;;;

 Articles published in Cross-Cultural Communication are licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 (CC-BY).


Address: 1020 Bouvier Street, Suite 400, Quebec City, Quebec, G2K 0K9, Canada. 
Telephone: 1-514-558 6138 
Website: Http://; Http://;

Copyright © Canadian Academy of Oriental and Occidental Culture