How floods cost Dar es Salaam City Sh230bn and lives last year

Dar es Salaam. Flooding by rains in Tanzania’s commercial capital Dar es Salaam last year killed some 17 people and caused damage to infrastructure estimated at $100 million, the World Bank said yesterday.

The Bretton Woods institution conducted a study on poverty and resilience in Dar es Salaam – and for the first time ever, quantified the magnitude of the impact.

The losses incurred are estimated to be close to two per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP) of the country’s largest metropolis, which is repeatedly hit by rain-caused disasters.

The study also revealed that the Msimbazi river basin is the most flooded part of the city, loosening an average of 950,000 cubic metres of sand each year. The resulting sediment slows the passage of water to the Indian Ocean, thus adding to flood-related woes in the city.

The World Bank Country Director for Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe Ms Bella Bird – who is based in Dar es Salaam – said the multilateral institution routinely helps cities to build resilience to the growing climate change risks through multi-sector and holistic approaches.

“Through the Tanzania Urban Resilience Programme (TURP), we are enabling cities to identify and understand climate change risks, initiating comprehensive risk-reduction strategies, enhancing emergency preparedness and response, as well as building local capacity,” she said at the opening of a two-day conference on climate smart infrastructure, innovation and education.

The study was conducted by university students who have been taking part in the project.

A total of 1,200 university students have since 2016 received training that included participation in field data gathering to build a workforce of future urban planners through the project.

The UK Department for International Development (DfID) – which is financing the project – said it granted Sh80 billion to support the five-year programme.

The DfID chief scientist, Prof Charlotte Witts, said urbanization is complex, and cities around the world are grappling with it. But, well-planned urban growth has the potential for generating some 80 per cent of the global GDP.

“Dar es Salaam’s rapid population growth is overloading the city’s infrastructure and environmental systems – hence reducing the quality of life for its residents,” Prof Witts said.

The deputy minister of State in the President’s Office responsible for Regional Administration and Local Governments (PO-RALG)), Mr Josephat Kandege, said the conference theme resonates well with the country’s development agenda on sustainable infrastructure. This, he said, will bring resilience to climate change.

Mr Kandege further said that the government is committed to finding solutions to challenges associated with urbanization and climate change – stressing that these cannot be achieved without partnering with development partners.

“We have the responsibility of ensuring resilience and sustainability of these services. I am pleased to see that the Tanzania urban resilience programme encourages the use of research, science and innovation in planning and decision-making to achieve sustainability and resilience,” he said.