EDITORIAL: Prepare adequately to mitigate rain torment

Wednesday March 20 2019

The rainy season is about to start in Dar es Salaam and several other regions, including Arusha, Tanga and Kilimanjaro.

The month-long period is synonymous with misery, which can largely be attributed to lack of adequate preparations for what is an annual weather phenomenon.

In Dar es Salaam, long rains are usually associated with severe flooding, particularly in low-lying areas, damage to infrastructure and chaos on the roads.

Thousands of people are displaced from flood-prone areas every year, only to return after the rains end and floods subside.

This is a problem that has refused to go away, especially in Dar es Salaam, where a significant portion of the sprawling metropolis’ 5.5 million residents live.

Residents of such areas have time and again been advised to move out before the rainy season sets in, but the pleas usually fall on deaf ears. As a result, people wading in waist-deep water carrying their belongings on their heads are a common sight in some parts of the city whenever the heavens open up.

Tanzania’s urban areas are growing rapidly, and the authorities should ensure that cities and towns expand in an orderly manner.

The main cause of frequent flooding in Dar es Salaam and other urban areas is not the rain itself, but haphazard development where people have built houses and other structures in areas that are essentially floodplains.

In many areas, natural waterways have been blocked, and rainwater, with nowhere else to go, gushes into homes. Needless to say, the consequences are usually dire.

It is also the responsibility of city and municipal councils to ensure that drainage systems are well maintained to reduce the risk of flooding in urban centres or at last mitigate its effects during the rainy season.