In Tanzania, Scaling Up Sanitation for the Urban Poor

by James Tayler

Water & Sanitation in Tanzania

By Noah Schermbrucker, SDI Secretariat

The improvement of sanitation in urban informal settlements in Africa is one of the key upgrading strategies that can make a tangible difference in poor communities. Through a joint action research project titled SHARE (Sanitation and Hygiene Applied Research for Equity) communities in Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Malawi and Zambia are using the SDI rituals of community-driven enumerations, profiling and mapping to outline the obstacles to achieving pro-poor citywide sanitation. The next phase of the project calls on the countries to build precedent setting pilot projects based on the information collected.

At a recent meeting in Tanzania each country reflected on progress made and the way forward. Discussions and presentations focused on how to use the information gathered (situational analysis) to generate political momentum, leverage resources, forge partnerships, create awareness and go to scale. Discussions were complemented by a visit to Keko Machungwa informal settlement to see latrines built by the Tanzanian federation and to Chamasi housing project where the group saw a constructed wetland, built to treat wastewater. A team from Uganda with experience in building and managing communal toilet facilities was also present throughout the 3-day meeting and significantly added to the discussions.

As the precedent setting phase of the project starts in earnest, federation members also discussed the key challenges as outlined by the situational analyses. This blog focuses on extracts from two presentations given by the Tanzanian federation – one about the research conducted and the second about likely precedents to address the challenges identified in the research phase. It is hoped that these details will give the reader a flavor of the challenges federations face in providing pro-poor sanitation at scale and the incremental steps employed to tackle these complexities.

Dar-es-Salaam: Sanitation Situational Analysis


Water & Sanitation in Tanzania

Dar-es-Salaam has a current approximate population of 4 million which is growing by 8% P.A.

  • 70%-80% live in informal settlements and the city is split into 3 municipalities.
  • The sewerage network covers only 10% of the city while the coverage of pit latrines is 98%.
  • The absence of a sanitation policy has led to the lack of guidance to role-players in the sector. A draft policy is currently being developed.
  • Little emphasis on sanitation & hygiene at the local level. 

Research and Findings: 

The Tanzanian federation undertook a surveying and mapping exercise of sanitation conditions in existing settlements. While pit latrine coverage was high, the conditions of many toilets was extremely poor. Some key findings included:

  • The main type of toilet used is the traditional pit latrine, which are normally poorly constructed, have poor super structure and cracking walls that affect stability. Four cases were noted during the study where people drowned in the latrines’ pits.
  • Lack of finances to improve the latrines also emerged as a key issue. This is compounded when negotiating the delicate relationship between landlords and tenants.
  • Pit emptying also emerged as a major challenge. Access to latrines is difficult because of the layout of informal settlements. Costs are also significant and existing practices have associated health and environmental impacts. 

Water & Sanitation in TanzaniaWater & Sanitation in Tanzania

Pit emptying can be dangerous and unhygienic. 

GIS was used to map the toilet type and location within informal settlements such as Keko Machungwa. The mapping process was done with the assistance of the community and local officials. 

Toilets presented in the map:

Water & Sanitation in Tanzania

  • Eco-San:  2
  • Pour Flush: 336
  • Septic Tank: 37
  • Traditional pit Latrines: 496
  • Tire pit latrines: 5
  • Piped to stream: 3
  • No toilet: 23

Dissemination and outputs for the Tanzanian federation:

  • The Federation has been able to understand the latrine situation in selected informal settlements in Dar es Salaam city.
  • Skills acquisition to federation members with regards to data collection skills, numbering, use of computer and cameras and GPS devices.
  • Relationships developed with communities and government officials at the street, ward and municipal level.
  • Implement alternative methods of pit emptying (gulper).

From the above extracts the reader should have a sense of some of the challenges that the Tanzanian federation faces. Even though there is a relatively high coverage of latrines, they are in a very poor condition and emptying them is costly and difficult.

The second presentation given by the Tanzanian team outlines some of the precedents they will use to address the above challenges.

Precedent Identification Process: 

Water & Sanitation in Tanzania

Discussion was done with federation members and they identified precedents based on situational analysis results:

  • Establishment of Sanitation Centers as a means for sanitation improvement and going to scale.
  • Introduce viable pit emptying mechanisms such as the “Gulper”
  • Train latrine construction technicians
  • Construction of shared latrines and promotion of accepted technologies
  • Construction of shared septic tanks

Discussion Meeting with Local Government Authority:

Meetings took place between local government authorities and the federation members in order to discuss the results and identify the precedents:

  • Establishing sanitation centers
  • Construction of shared septic tanks and DEWATS (Decentralized Waste Treatment Systems) 
  • Law enforcement for negligent landlords

Sanitation Centers:

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  • Management of the sanitation center will be by the community including the Federation, Community Health Committees and other key actors. 
  • Actors involved in the management would consider the interests of various groups including tenants and owners (negotiating this relationship)
  • Interventions should aim to meet needs of different people.

How precedents will facilitate scaling up:

  • Sanitation centers will be a focal point for community action and organization 
  • The center will provide co-production opportunities by linking federation initiatives with other stakeholders
  • Strengthen community and government relations by linking with ward level government in a manner that will provide an opportunity for local government to participate.
  • Different models of payment for services like installment payment and co-payment between structure owners and tenants
  • Sanitation mapping to understand land ownership arrangements and how it affects sanitation improvement
  • Explore land availability for communal septic tanks, DEWATS and wetland systems, systems which would accommodate many people within settlements
  • Link with other departments and institutions for expertise and resource mobilization (water utility, drilling department & academic institutions)