A walk through Kigogo

A walk through Kigogo

Using an online map they helped developed with local residents, Tanzania Red Cross National Society volunteers offer a tour of the risks and assets of Kigogo, a neighbourhood in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

In the Kigogo neighbourhood of Dar es Salaam, some 57,600 people live in an area of less than two square kilometres, according to 2012 census data. (The number is likely much higher now due to rapid population growth.) Almost half of that area — which houses 4,400 buildings, including four schools and one hospital  — is prone to heavy seasonal flooding.

It wasn’t always that way. First established on a rise between two river valleys, Kigogo’s more recent settlements have expanded into lower-lying, flood-prone valleys. As riverbeds fill with makeshift houses or get used as de facto trash dumping grounds, the risk of flooding increases at an alarming rate.

A lack of properly constructed drainage channels has also worsened Kigogo’s flood risk. Thanks to the community mapping project Dar Ramani Huria, local activists, leaders and city planners can address those problem areas much more effectively because they now know more precisely what needs to be done and where.

“The residents can use the maps to familiarize themselves with problems affecting rivers, bridges and other infrastructure,” says one Red Cross volunteer from the district. “It has really helped us get to know Kigogo better.”

To get a sense of what they’ve learned from the mapping process, we asked volunteers from the Tanzania Red Cross National Society to take us on a tour of Kigogo, using the open-source map as a guide. At each stop, they explain what they see and why they decided to put it on the map.

Gonzaga Bridge: overrun by floods

Standing in the middle of the Gonzaga Bridge, local activist Zaharani Omary explains how, during the rainy season, fast-running water often crests the bridge, rendering it useless for vehicles and pedestrians. A sharp bend in the river exacerbates the flooding, which also inundates nearby houses. A school and church are also at risk.

“We put this place on the map to show the problems affecting the neighbourhood,” says Omary, an activist who identifies problems affecting local rivers. “Residents here are greatly affected by floods and must relocate during rainy seasons.”

Kigogo Road: a safe haven

Local water activist and Tanzania Red Cross National Society volunteer Miraji Simba stands along Kigogo Road, home to both small and large businesses as well as the administration offices for the district chief and subchief. “On my left are Kigogo and Mkawa schools,” says Simba. “On my right side, there is the Masjid Mosque. Victims of floods seek refuge in the schools and mosque.

“This place is safe because it is not in a valley. The schools are also surrounded by ditches, made by the Community Infrastructure Upgrading Program, a project funded by the city government, the World Bank and others, for draining water into the ocean.

“The area has been added to the map because of the roles played by the schools and the mosque in providing safe shelter in times of crisis.”

Msimbazi River: walling in the water

At our second stop in the tour, Omary points out a flood prevention wall built on one side of the Msimbazi River, which separates one part of Kigogo from the adjoining Buguruni neighbourhood. Unfortunately, the wall has caused as many problems as it has solved.

“This place is on the map because the infrastructure is in bad shape,” says Omary. “Initially, the effects of floods were not so pronounced because that flood wall had not been constructed. The wall has narrowed the spread of water, leading to destruction of ditches that would drain water away.”

The regular flooding here is a particular hardship for the people who live in this part of Kigogo, most of whom consume just one meal a day. “There is no market in this part of Kigogo,” says Omary, “and during the rainy season, it is difficult for them to reach the market because of floods.”

Kibangu River: a threatening diversion

“This area was put on the map because the Kibangu River has diverted its direction and no longer passes under the bridge,” says Miraji Simba, a local water activist and Tanzania Red Cross National Society volunteer, standing where a bridge connects Kigogo with the Mburahati Barafu neighbourhood. “This has led to the destruction of many houses.

“During the rainy seasons, the floods destroy property and sometimes cause death,” says Simba, one of many local members of Water Witness International, which works to protect rivers against pollution. “We rehabilitate ditches through community services to minimize the effects of floods. On my left, there is a ditch that was repaired by the Community Infrastructure Upgrading Program. The society needs to find ways to retrieve the original course of the river. The residents cannot solve these issues on their own; we need help from the government and volunteers.”

Putting Mapera on the map

“This place is not directly affected by floods, but it gives shelter to victims of floods from the nearby Bondeni neighbourhood,” says Omary. “The residents are very kind and welcoming. The victims return to their homes once the flooding subsides. We have schools, pharmacies, a cemetery and other amenities that can be helpful in times of crisis. Still, Mapera has its own challenges and needs. Many residents are squatters and their houses are in bad condition,” notes Omary. Infrastructure has yet to be developed and there is a need for better services such as garbage collection.

Still, some improvements such as new drainage ditches have been installed and have been particularly effective during the rainy season. However, some are in need of repair, something that can be noted on the map. “These ditches are narrow and often destroyed by vehicles,” Omary notes. Putting these features on the map, he says, helps alert authorities and local volunteers to problems that are not always obvious. “Then, they can work together to repair or improve critical infrastructure.”

This post is also available in: French, Spanish

Comments are closed, but trackbacks and pingbacks are open.