Tanzania bears the heaviest burden of flooding of any country in East Africa. Adding to the struggle, the country’s rapid urbanization makes the land more vulnerable to the dangers of climate change. To address these obstacles, the Tanzanian government is launching an urban resilience program supported by the World Bank and Britain’s Department for International Development to protect Tanzanian cities and their dwellers from floods and other threats triggered by climate change.

The urban resilience program will identify areas susceptible to flooding and draw up preparedness plans. In collaboration with the aforementioned entities, the Tanzanian government is aiming to install early warning systems and monitoring equipment.


Eric Schaechter.

Tanzania’s capital, Dar Es Salaam is home to 4.5 million people, all under threat of floods that can destroy infrastructure assets worth $5.3 billion, according to the World Bank. “Restoring forest areas and rehabilitating river systems could alleviate urban flooding problems, and make cities more pleasant and productive places to live,” says Bella Bird, the World Bank’s country director for Tanzania.

This partnership with the World Bank isn’t new – in fact, it dates back to 2013. Dar Es Salaam’s City Council worked with the World Bank and other partners, including the Red Cross and the Open Geospatial Consortium, to plot roads, streams and flood plains. Dar es Salaam has almost 70% of its population living in slums, making densely populated slum areas like Tandale even more vulnerable to floods than the rest of the capital. In January, Tanzanian communities in Dar Es Salam mapped flood risk using drones. Project Ramani Huria (Swahili for “Open Mapping”) aimed to empower communities in the capital’s slums with their own accurate maps of their surroundings, to reduce flood risks and improve response to disasters. Floods have left hundreds of Tanzanian families out of their homes, killing dozens almost every time a flood occurs.

Just last week, the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) issued an updated Disaster Risk Reduction Toolkit with the aim of increasing cities’ resilience and preparedness in the face of natural disasters. The Toolkit comes on the heels of the 2017 Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction meetings in Cancun, Mexico, which were held between the 22nd and 26th of May. The Platform is global forum for the development and implementation of tools in disaster risk reduction.

*Never miss a story like this - subscribe to our weekly highlights and stay up-to-date