The United Nations designated the first Monday of October to reflect on the state of our towns and cities, and on the basic right of all to adequate shelter.
Tomorrow we will commemorate the World Habitat Day. The United Nations designated the first Monday of October to reflect on the state of our towns and cities, and on the basic right of all to adequate shelter.
Every year a new theme is created to promote sustainable development policies to ensure adequate shelter for all and this year’s theme is housing policies, affordable homes.
The themes often promote one of UN-Habitat’s focal areas such as inclusive housing and social services, a safe and healthy living environment for all with particular consideration for children, youth, women, elderly and disabled.
Affordable and sustainable transport and energy, promotion, protection, and restoration of green urban spaces, safe and clean drinking water and sanitation, healthy air quality, job creation, improved urban planning and slum upgrading and better waste management are all revisited during the World Habitat Day.
According to the 2012 census, Tanzania has a total of 9.3 million houses. The current housing shortage in Tanzania in at 3,000,000 units with an annual increment of about 200,000 new demands.
And this is why Sound Living visited Kigogo Ward along Msimbazi Valley and other slums in Dar es Salaam to give you a glimpse of life in the slums even as many prepare to celebrate the World Habit Day.
Our writers visited Kigogo, Buguruni kwa Mnyamani ,Buguruni Sukita area, Tandale,Manzese, Mbagala, Vungunguti, Temeke, to mention but a few where residents are living in informal settlements. And the going gets even tougher when it rains since most of these areas are prone to flooding.
After making random house-to-house visits, Sound Living noted that there were no marked streets and the filth that surrounded these dwelling places is a story for another day. There are no proper toilets and other sanitation facilities. The residents who were randomly interviewed by Sound Living claimed that there were many cases of waterborne diseases.
A spot check by Sound Living revealed that there were no regular taps as residents were moving with yellow jericans looking for water.
One of the residents identified as Ashura Malick informed Sound Living that she normally fetches water from Msimbazi River, which is not fit for human consumption.
When asked whether she knows about the dangers of using unsafe water, Ashura noted that she only use the precious liquid for bath and cleaning utensils but buys drinking water.
“I normally buy drinking water along the main road, where I find vendors selling a twenty litre bucket at Sh500,” says Ashura.
Sound living also witnessed a good number of people farming along the Msimbazi Valley at which vegetable growing is a commonplace.
Along Msimbazi Valley there are a number of houses which are nearly collapsing due to erosion caused by human activities.
Towards the afternoon we finally sat and had some conversation with 50-year-old Fatuma Ibrahim. There is a bedsheetcovering the door to her house, which is made of rusty tins, and corrugated iron sheet. The strong stench from the pit latrine right in front of her door was evident. Narrating her story Fatuma Ibrahim is a mother of two children plus two grandchildren who live with her after her daughters left when their house was washed away during the floods.
Fatuma said before she started living along Msimbazi Valley she was living with her husband in Jangwani Ward since 1985. She said that the 2012 floods washed away her house and her husband drowned in the process, adding that her only alternative was to relocate to Msimbazi.
Fatuma expresses her dismay about the dangerous situation in the slums.
“It is risky to live in this environment. A month never passes without having a sick person in our family,” she said adding that the area is also a hide out for criminals, who even erode children’s morals as they sell them drugs and expose them to all manner of vices like prostitution.
Fatuma said she depends on vegetable farming for survival, noting that living along water sources has been helpful in making her farm green all the time hoping that she will someday build a permanent house and set up a small business.
“So what I get is little money, which is enough for food and sending my grand children to school. If the government comes to demolish our settlements, all my dreams would be shattered,” said Fatuma oblivious of the danger of staying in the area.
And like Fatuma, many people are living in these informal settlements due to poverty and population surge in most African cities like Dar es Salaam. According to a 2014 report on ‘Tracking Africa’s Progress in Figures’ issued by the African Development Bank (AfDB), Dar es Salaam will have at least 6.2 million people by 2025 – this marks an 85 per cent increase in population in a 20-year period from 2005.
One obvious thing about the projected rise in population is that the majority of people coming to the city are leaving drought and poverty-stricken rural areas in search of greener pastures in the city, where they will most probably stay in informal settlements.
Children and youth below 25, representing nearly 64 per cent of Tanzania’s population, are the most likely to seek education and employment opportunities in a city.
Even Tanzania’s youth living in rural areas are connected to a global urban culture, by information, technological innovation, development aid and an increasingly globalised commodity market – all factors with a strong urban connotation.
Many rural youth therefore aspire for an urban lifestyle, which influences their music, fashion, food and lifestyles. Young people are especially attracted to Bongoland (Dar es Salaam considered to be the city of brains), where the smart ones go to “make it”.
This poses a genuine concern to policymakers considering the influence of the urbanites in shaping the socio-economic and political landscape of nations all over the world.
To address informal urban settlements, experts have called on authorities to avoid providing social services to areas considered to be unfit for settlement.
According to UN-Habitat, demolition of city slums should not be politically driven but a continuous process until the problem gets solved once and for all.
The Competitiveness Africa Report 2017 indicates that Tanzania’s population is one of the fastest growing on the continent, only rivalled by that of DR Congo and Nigeria which stand at annual growth of 3.7 and 6.7 million respectively.
With an annual population growth which is estimated at 2.9 million, the challenges of housing posses as a potential threat to urban and rural development in Tanzania.
Tanzania’s housing backlog is the fourth on the continent where Nigeria ranks highest with 18 million followed by DR Congo with 4 million, then Egypt at 3.5 million in that descending order.
According to experts in real estate the number of available houses includes the over 3 million substandard houses that are mud-walled and grass thatched.
The situation is worsened by the fact that the rate of construction does not meet the annual rising demand of homes in Tanzania and Africa in general.
In an earlier interview with Sound Living, United Nation Development Program (UNDP) officer in charge David Omuzuofoh said the government should come up with a forward-looking policy that will allow for proper expansion of cities like Dar es Salaam which amkes lives of people livable.
“Dar es Salaam cannot remain with this population in the next two decades, but when the government will come up with a policy that will allow expansion of the city and the country in general, Dar es Salaam will be sustainable,” he said adding that it is hard to control rural-urban migration since people believe they can find everything in the city.
“If people in the suburbs, rural areas could access all necessary requirements like social services in their localities, the city would be livable and majority won’t find the need to migrate to Dar es Salaam,” he said.
Husea Company Limited which deals in urban planning states through its Chairperson, Renny Chiwathat there is a need to improve at least five suburbs in Dar es Salaam to tackle congestion in the city.
The housing challenges are not unique to Tanzania as current housing deficit in Africa is estimated at 64 million houses, combined with an explosive population growth of 3.2 billion people in the next 85 years requires a massive housing effort according to a survey by Betoniq. Without replacing existing houses that are sub-standard, 10.6 Million houses have to be built in Africa annually to keep up with housing demands of the continent.
However even as developers make an effort towards narrowing this gap, there are some glaring challenges that seems to stall the progress in solving this crisis.
Funding of major housing projects have been left in the hands of mainly private developers who are also faced with a myriad of shortcomings including taxation which in return make the houses out of reach for the common citizens.
Even with the introduction of mortgage financing in Tanzania through Tanzania Mortgage Refinancing Company (TMRC) most citizens are still ignorant of the availability of such to enable them get such funds.
The poor infrastructure, the ever rising prices of construction materials and huge compensations for the land in the areas where developers seek to invest is another challenge which in the long term pushes the housing prices thus people end up in the slums.According to Dar es Salaam City profile report by UN Habitat, majority of Dar es Salaam’s population live on unplanned and informal land and lack access to appropriate housing and services.
The local authority in Dar es Salaam lacks the capacity to supply planned and serviced land in urban areas, and a large number of low-income dwellers have been forced into unplanned and unauthorised settlements.