Cities in need of dreams: the urban challenge in Tanzania

Philotheusy Mbogoro, national coordinator for the Tanzania Cities Network, speaks to urbanafrica.net from the Africities Summit about Tanzania’s urban development challenges and the State of the Cities Report (SoCR) for Tanzania.

UA: Dar es Salaam is experiencing rapid urban growth. What is the biggest challenge related to urban growth in Tanzania’s key cities, like Dar?

PM: We have several challenges. When you talk about Dar es Salaam – informality is the biggest challenge because more than 70 percent of the growth is informal. More than 64 percent of the economy is the informal economy…we have traffic jams, insecurity, a lot of disasters — floods and other things.

UA: One of the themes of the Africities Summit is that local government really is the place where urban challenges will be met. How is the local government response in Tanzania?

PM: The establishment of the Tanzania Cities Network was a bottom-up approach – local people trying to address challenges they are facing. That’s why we established the Tanzania State of Cities reporting – we have the database, which is reflecting the reality of how we are. We have already identified key challenges. The core three are: The missing integrated database. We have the data but in sectors that don’t help to influence the right decision making by our institutions; We are missing strategic planning. If our cities have no dreams then we are just planning for short-term planning; The third is on financing: it is too dependent on the central government. More than 70 percent of the strategy cities are depending on central government for city operations.

To address those [challenges], collaborating with central government, civil society and community based organisations, we have developed the capacity building programme for developing integrated databases, management tools, and a sustainable funding option for urban development.

UA: Dar es Salaam is on track to become a mega-city by 2050. How are city officials thinking about what to do with a big city like that?

PM: We have a specific programme for developing the metropolitan development master plan, which is in the process. There is still a very big problem in Dar es Salaam: we have the Dar es Salaam Transport Master Plan but it’s not well implemented. In the State of Cities Report process we learned that even the empowerment provided to the cities by the law – [it] doesn’t give authority. The law says planning authorities are city authorities by they aren’t given teeth to regulate and coordinate the process…to make sure that other sectors adhere to what cities say.

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One Response to “Cities in need of dreams: the urban challenge in Tanzania”

  1. Mohamed Yunus

    Looking forward to reading Tanzania State of Cities reporting. I also wonder what kinds of insights and experiences that the community can also come with in planning better and sustainable cities for themselves. As Mr. Mbogoro already knows well one of the biggest problems in Dar and other mega-cities are green spaces. Young people increasingly feel trapped living in areas that dont have spaces to meet, place sports, meet others and establish social enterprises. Kariakoo is a prime example of this, so is Mbagala. I think these spaces are crucial in shaping robust and rich cities.

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