On 28th February 2017, Ramani Huria held its 2nd community engagement workshop at Tanzania Data Lab (dLab). The workshop comprised of Ward Executive Officers (WEOs) from the community mapped wards of Dar es Salaam where maps were produced by the local community to help decision makers in their planning for flood mitigation and other issues.
This workshop was called as a follow-up of the 1st community workshop that was held in October 2016 and involved 10 ward officers from Tandale, Ndugumbi, Buguruni, Vingunguti, Magomeni, Hananasif, Mzimuni, Manzese, Mwananyamala and Kigogo.
The participants this round included 18 ward officers out of the 21 invited who benefited most from the community mapping project. These included the WEOs of Kigogo, Mburahati, Mzimuni, Mwananyamala, Magomeni, Keko, Temeke, Ubungo, Mchikichini, Makurumla, Ndugumbi, Makumbusho, Mabibo, Vingunguti, Buguruni, Ilala, Msasani and Hananasif.
To open the workshop, lead mapping supervisor Mr. Innocent Maholi gave an overview of the workshop objectives – with a general introduction of attendees and an outline of expected outcomes. A ward officer that attended the 1st workshop then presented on how his community has benefited from the community mapping initiative and highlighted various challenges and lessons learned in the process. This presentation set the tone for the workshop, and positively engaged the rest of the ward officers who were eager to interact for the remainder of the workshop.
Due to the shared nature of the environment where these wards are located, WEOs noted that their communities are affected by similar issues; largely informal and unplanned, situated along the major rivers etc. Discussion between officers confirmed that map usage has varied and extended far beyond its primary goal of improving flood resilience. Some of these uses have included:
- Improving community awareness of methods for coping with life in inundated areas. This is a direct result of the dissemination of drainage and inundation maps that have instigated public insistence of i) safe disposal of waste materials on the individual level and the discouragement of dumping waste in drainage systems, ii) regular general community clean ups of the environment, making sure that drains are clear and iii) improvement of drainage system construction based upon information provided by the maps.
- Advising new ward members on the flood situation of available plots – making them aware of suitable areas for construction, safe from potential waterlogging. The maps are also guiding WEOs provision of house permits.
- Supporting WEOs in short term infrastructural planning against floods – eg. expansion and organized cleaning of drains.
- Identification of ward boundaries and improving newly appointed WEOs understanding the areas of jurisdiction as well as the ward geography.
- Navigation around the ward, mostly by visitors, newly appointed ward officers, and general community members.
- Aiding in academic research and internship trainings for students pursuing higher education.
- Replacing the outdated ward maps that were previously used and lacked necessary detail to show the existing structural situation of the wards.
To ensure consistent improvement and continued use of the maps, the WEOs suggested more regular community training to sharpen community mapping skills as well as the provision of simple mapping tools like GPS units, smartphones, computers etc.
Finally, the WEOs were keen to promise their active participation in further community mapping activities within their areas of jurisdiction.