Mr. Monday Antony is a 66-year-old Tanzanian, living in Mchikichini ward, Ilala District, Dar es Salaam. He participated in “Community Mapping for Flood Resilience”, and talked to Steven Bukulu (mapping supervisor for Ramani Huria) about the flooding in many areas of Dar es Salaam.
“The population has decreased in the low altitude areas since the last tragic incident of floods that happened in 2013, which got all houses submerged in water. Due to the loss and damage of property, many of these people shifted to safer areas to improve and build up their lives. In addition, many of their small scale businesses were no more.”, he says. “Many of those that are currently living here are new to this area. They have no clear clue or idea of what floods can do to them when heavy rains occur,” he adds. “What has greatly contributed to floods in Dar es Salaam is the way that houses have blocked passage for large volumes of water. This water collects from different areas on higher altitudes of the city to big waterways and channels like River Msimbazi that passes through this ward.”
On top of that, residents of these areas have poor waste disposal behavior. “People don’t care where they are supposed dump their garbage which takes us back to poor urban planning. If only they knew how this has greatly contributed to drains being blocked 24/7 till now as we speak in a dry season, then they would understand what proper way they should do it. These drains help so much in reducing floods by draining large volumes of water from different areas to the main water channels and help reduce the floods. Without this happening, we can’t avoid floods”, he stresses.
Mr Monday Antony, who himself was not affected by the last floods that happened earlier this year in May 2015, says that people’s lack of response to bad weather forecasts has caused them damages that include loss of property and serious injury. “If only they would be attentive on what is said on the news, all this disaster wouldn’t happen.
Considering community involvement in mapping for flood resilience in Mchikichini Ward, Mr Antony confesses that the activities were really important to them and the outcome will be even better since the data would have been verified by the local community. He sees it as being an important program for local people to participate, even though the biggest challenge is that it is very hard for those who didn’t draw maps during their early stages of education to adapt to the current digital mapping skills with the use of computers, GPS units and Field Papers.
Mr Antony agrees with the view that digital mapping is essential for keeping current records for the future generation. In addition to that, digital maps can be shared and accessed at any one time on the internet through OpenStreetMap. He suggested that subward officers should be informed that this data is open source so even in their absence, the same information can be retrieved and used for administrative work. He also points out the essential nature of maps during National census, vaccination campaigns and urban planning. As well as when setting up polling stations ahead of elections, and improving social services like health centres, schools, roads, water supply, and electricity distribution. This will build stronger communities to promote equity and opportunities.
Mr Anthony ascertains that once the learning material is put into hard copies, it will be easier for the community to pass on the skills of digitizing different areas on OpenStreetMap to other people who are not yet exposed to this technology, including his generation. “It has now been translated in Swahili, that makes it much easier,” he says.
Finally, he tells us: “Mapping begins with one’s interest. If all the people that are interested in mapping receive advanced training, they would be able to make a huge difference to the socio-economic development in Tanzania, and assist in training other people in their community once the project is done.”