By Kizito Makoye
DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania (AA) - The World Bank, as part of its mission to strengthen physical infrastructure and make it more resilient to natural disasters, has approved $200 million in financing to help reduce the flood risk in Tanzania’s port city of Dar es Salaam.
The grant, recently approved by the bank’s board of directors, will help cushion 300,000 people in the city’s low-lying areas from floods and provide better infrastructure and services, officials said.
Preeti Arora, acting country director and operations manager for the World Bank based in Dar es Salaam, said the money would help authorities transform the city into a more efficient metropolitan area by converting economically important flood-prone zones into vibrant green spaces while building modern commercial and residential centers.
“Dar es Salaam’s business environment is negatively impacted by the unplanned nature of its growth, limited urban services and vulnerability of settlements and critical infrastructure to climate-related hazards,” she said.
As one of Africa’s fastest-growing cities with 70% of its 6 million inhabitants living in informal settlements, Dar es Salaam is highly vulnerable to flooding, sea level rise and water-borne diseases.
The city, which accounts for 40% of the country’s total urban population and 17% of GDP, is projected to become a megacity and home to more than 10 million people by 2030.
Under the new project, city authorities are working to improve flood resilience in the sprawling Msimbazi River Basin and its adjoining wetlands and critical transport infrastructure as well as draw up emergency response plans for disasters.
- Effect on mobility
World Bank Senior Urban Specialist John Morton said the project is designed to cope with rapid urban sprawl and climate change impacts through a flood prevention mechanism that reduces the effect on mobility, property, health and economic livelihoods.
“Given the city’s flat topography and limited drainage networks, nearly every rainy season brings flooding...This is exacerbated by unplanned growth,” he told Anadolu Agency.
For the past two decades, the World Bank has been actively engaging in urban development of the bustling port city, whose green space, wetlands, forests and riverbanks have been destroyed due to urban sprawl, deforestation and waste dumping.
But Dar es Salaam regional commissioner Amos Makala said the city’s authorities are struggling to implement formal planning due to the rising population.
“The city’s infrastructure system was designed for a smaller population. Many city dwellers have built homes along perennial waterways. That is why the city is always affected by floods,” he told Anadolu Agency.
Makala hailed the World Bank for its deep commitment and for collaborating with the authorities to identify and draw up preparedness plans and strategic actions in the city’s flood-prone areas to help people respond to disasters.
- Heaviest price
As authorities struggle to address worsening flood impacts, city dwellers are bearing the heaviest burden due to infrastructural challenges and frequent property destruction.
Marieta Galinoma, a resident of Tandale -- a vast labyrinthine neighborhood where residents are crammed in flimsily built shacks without basic amenities -- still remembers how her home was engulfed by a surge of wastewater perpetually flowing from a broken sewer when heavy rains pounded the city in June last year.
“That day was the shock of my life. I had to frantically carry my children to safety and everything was destroyed,” she said.
Galinoma recalled how a cascade of floodwater poured into her home, washing away her hard-earned belongings including mattresses, couches, a radio set, clothing and her children’s school books.
Worst of all, the floods washed away the cooking utensils Galinoma used to run her business as a street cook, leaving her without a livelihood.
The 41-year-old mother of four is optimistic however that the city’s flood challenge will be resolved under the World Bank-financed initiative.
“I heard the government received a lot of money to fix these floods. I hope the money will be put to good use instead of ending up in people’s pockets,” she said.