In Tanzania’s largest city, Dar es Salaam, water supply does not meet the needs of the community. In response, people adopt multiple strategies to secure adequate water for their daily requirements. This paper investigates urban water provision and governance in Dar es Salaam, and has two aims: to investigate the causes of urban water failure; and to examine the full range of strategies employed by the local community to overcome water shortages. We critique the socioeconomic implications of both water shortages themselves and the methods used to overcome them. The paper draws on a household survey and key informant interviews in Temeke, one of the city’s three municipalities. We find that failing urban infrastructure and rapid urbanisation place additional pressure on water supply, but argue that the primary cause of water shortages is water governance failure.