Simplified Sewer System in Dar es Salaam



As of 2017, the Tanzanian Urban Poor Federation (TUPF) has organized 735 groups in 8 cities and towns. Community-led profiling in Dar es Salaam consistently identifies sanitation as a primary concern for informal settlement communities and the affordability of solutions as a principle barrier to scalable solutions. In 2013, the community in Vinguguti began to organize around this critical issue in an effort to find innovative sanitation solutions. Through a participatory design process that involved the whole community, a flexible sewer design emerged. Savings groups mobilized their members to contribute towards the costs of upgrading family toilets for connection to the micro-sewer.


To arrive at the design, the Vingunguti community together with the Tanzania SDI Alliance, Ardhi University, and the local municipality conducted a joint feasibility study. The gathering of various actors and organizations allowed for a constant exchange of ideas, knowledge, and planning strategies. The agreed upon technological approach uses pipes with a smaller diameter, an adjustment that allows them to be installed at a shallower depth and a flatter gradient than the conventional sewer system. This approach is far less labor intensive, disruptive, or expensive than conventional sewer systems. During the pilot phase, 230 people (44 households) were connected.


With the pilot phase complete, a strong demand from other households emerged. The municipality has recognized the simplified sewerage system as a viable option for the Kombo settlement area and officials at Dar es Salaam Water and Sewerage Authority are in agreement that communities within the simplified sewerage area should be charged a minimal tariff. This agreement must still be formalized with the Energy and Water Utility Regulatory Agency (EWURA). Community technicians have been equipped with skills related to trench excavation, installation of sewer pipes, and construction of manholes. In addition, communities have been trained in low-cost bio digester toilet construction and have begun upgrading or replacing their latrines. The utility company is providing oversight and quality assurance. The learnings from this project will feed into a planned World Bank investment in the Dar es Salaam Water and Sewerage Corporation (DAWASCO) for decentralized wastewater treatments and simplified sewerage systems in the city.

The Tanzania slum dweller federation efforts contribute to improved city resilience by reducing human vulnerability via improved access to sanitation, building skills in construction and planning in urban poor communities, and demonstrating effective multi-stakeholder collaboration.

This post is part of a series of case studies from our 2017 Annual Report titled ‘The Road to Resilience.’ Emerging from the field of ecology,  ‘resilience’  describes the capacity of a system to maintain or recover from disruption or disturbance. Cities are also complex systems and a resilience framework addresses the inter- connectedness of formal and informal city futures. Moreover, it enables a nuanced reflection on the nature of shocks and chronic stressors – recognising that the latter are particularly acute in slum dweller communities and that this critically undermines the entire city’s economic, social, political, and environmental resilience.As with personal resilience, city resilience demands awareness, acknowledgment of reality, and a capacity to move beyond reactivity to responses that are proactive, thoughtful, and beneficial to the whole. The most enlightened individuals and cities will be those that understand their responsibility to the most vulnerable and to the planet. Our 2017 Annual Report showcases some of SDI’s achievements over the past year on the road to resilience. Click here for the full report.