Empowering Entrepreneurs and Strengthening Community-Government Ties: A Transformative Visit to Dar es Salaam’s Federation Groups
In a momentous effort to bolster economic growth, foster community development, and enhance collaboration between local entrepreneurs and the government, the Region office, through the Business Officer of Dar es Salaam joined hands with the development officers from Kinondoni District, Temeke, and Ilala, alongside the esteemed Center for Community Initiatives (CCI), in a significant visit to the Federation groups within the region of Dar es Salaam.
The primary objective of this visit was two-fold: to elevate the status and potential of the entrepreneurial groups that form part of the Tanzania Federation of Urban Poor (TFUP) and to establish stronger bonds between these groups and the government. Recognising the vital role these enterprising individuals play in the socioeconomic fabric of Dar es Salaam, the collaborative effort aimed to empower them further, providing opportunities for growth, and amplifying their voices in policy-making decisions.
The delegation embarked on a comprehensive journey across the bustling neighborhoods of Dar es Salaam, engaging with a diverse array of Federation groups. The entrepreneurs showcased their innovative ventures, from local market stalls selling handmade crafts to emerging tech start-ups with a vision to revolutionise the digital landscape. The passion and dedication of these entrepreneurs left an indelible impression on the visiting officials and reaffirmed the significance of their mission.
Through interactive workshops and town-hall discussions, the government representatives and CCI professionals shed light on various support programs, funding opportunities, and business development resources available to Federation members. These initiatives aimed to equip entrepreneurs with the necessary tools to strengthen their enterprises and drive sustainable economic growth within their communities.
Moreover, the visit emphasised the importance of collaboration and communication between the government and the entrepreneurial ecosystem. The participating officials pledged to streamline bureaucratic processes, facilitate access to capital, and implement policies that fostered a favourable business environment for the Federation groups.
As the delegation immersed themselves in the vibrant tapestry of Dar es Salaam’s entrepreneurial spirit, they also took the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the challenges and aspirations of the local communities. Listening intently to the stories and experiences shared, the officials vowed to address the socio-economic disparities and work towards a more inclusive and equitable future.
On the 17th December 2015, demolitions began. By the time they were halted by a court injunction in the first week of January, 1,412 houses in six sub-wards had been destroyed and an estimated 9,900 people made homeless. The government agency gave no warning. People were phoned at work by their neighbours to be told that their homes were being taken down. Tenants and resident land owners had their belongings crushed with the buildings. Food, clothes, documents… were all destroyed. Those on the site tried to protest but their words were not heard. Even those with formal responsibilities such as the chairperson of the sub-ward was not been notified of the demolitions.
The demolitions took place in neighbourhoods next to the Msimbazi river. Some residents dispersed, relocating outside of the neighbourhood or finding space with their extended family who lived in neighbouring areas. However, some residents have no alternative. These families moved away from the area in the day but returned at night and slept among the rubble. The difficulties are immense. Some families have suffered further. One man died from stress as he watched his house being torn down. A women was forced to sleep out with her two month child who subsequently died. Since the injunction was secured, some families have built corrugated iron shacks in the wasteland that the government has created.
The National Environment Agency (under the Ministry of Environment) ordered the demolitions arguing that this was an area that regularly flooded and the houses were built illegally. Each year, they argued, the government had to take responsibility for temporarily housing residents of flooded dwellings. In 2011, they had relocated some people by the government but few had stayed in part because the neighbourhood was remote and far from work and services.
After clearing the ground, the officials returned to install a sign that informed people they were not allowed to live in the area.
The households were told that the government was clearing the land 60 metres on either side of the river. However, this stipulation has not been followed. In some cases, dwellings have been cleared for distances in excess of 60 metres; sometimes more than 100 metres. At the same time, a public hospital adjacent to the river remains standing.
These neighbourhoods have been in place for decades with many of the evicted residents have lived there for a considerable time. While the government argues that the housing is informal, these are people who have formal water services and who have been first surveyed and secondly charged for property taxes. Recently some organized groups have been cleaning the river but they lack the equipment to clear the outlet to the sea due to a build up of waste against the mangrove swamps.
The court injunction is now in place for another two months.
The Tanzania Federation of the Urban Poor has begun to mobilize residents in the area. The Federation encourages residents, particularly women, to join savings groups. Eighteen savings groups are working to increase the options faced by this group of displaced people. Residents are willing to vacate the area immediately adjacent to the river but are asking that the government provide accommodation on the remaining portion of the site. However many people live “hand-to-mouth”; it is not clear that people can afford to repay.
By Anni Beukes, SDI Secretariat
For those bounded and constrained by lines of informality, drawn more often than not as a consequence of exclusion from the formal city, the data they collect about their lives in the spaces they inhabit, has proven a powerful tool and asset for negotiation with city officials and donors. McGill professor in urban planning, Richard Shaermur, commenting on the relationship between data and the urban poor condition in Canada, lends support to SDI’s methodology in terms of our process and reliability of our data. Shaermur argues that “data at the local level can easily be skewed if a survey isn’t filled out by a group that is representative of a neighbourhood” or in the case of our federations, settlements.
Community-led profiling, serves not only as the foundational step from which the lives and living-worlds of slum/informal settlements residents are made visible, but also as a key tool and asset in advocacy and engagement between slum dwellers and their development partners. A community-led profile is a process which gathers/collects “data information of a particular settlement at the settlement level without necessarily having to collect the same information at household level” (Muungano Wa Wanavijiji, 2013). On a city-wide scale, these profiles serve as the baseline information about the history, social and physical conditions in informal settlements and become an asset for the urban poor in their negotiations around access to land, access to services and demands for inclusive planning and housing, as well as increasingly around livelihood options.
The governance and resources for infrastructure in cities are organized around the administrative or political representative units such as wards, locations, parishes and so on. Poor communities are rarely aligned to this city structure. Either the communities are found within the city units, or cut across administrative boundaries.
The profiling process creates a layer of information on the locality of poorly served communities. The profiling is therefore intended to generate a city planning and service delivery strategy that addresses poverty more effectively than the conventional administrative format.
Born as this data is from an almost unique social process, underlined and inscribed by what has become known as the SDI rituals or methods, it follows that it serves as a conduit for the development of relationships. Relationship, refers to “the way in which two or more people or things are connected, or the state of being connected”. Data in SDI federations connects federation members to each other, because it unveils the shared challenges of lack of access to services and land across borders. Yet, it also connects people. A stalwart of the organization, referring to daily savings, once commented that “we don’t collect money, we collect people.” Drawing on “connect” and its key derivatives, “connection” and “connectedness” as operative words here, we may paraphrase to “we don’t connect data points, we connect people”.
An SDI profile data matrix is more than just a collection of variables. It is steeped in everyday material life, every point is polyvalent, may veil more than it reveals, but ties together people, space, services and the human condition at work in informal settlements. At the settlement level, the profile lends a sense of belonging and of shared responsibility for the resources available and desired. It forms the basis of organizing communities around communal challenges that require structured collective action. According to federation members their data also offers them a sense of security and “protects settlements from encroachment as communities identify with their borders, enhance advocacy for change and lastly inform community planning strategies for housing and infrastructural development”. A working tap in an informal settlement is not so much about functioning infrastructure, than it may be about the federation advocacy team using the data from their profile to engage with sympathetic officials, donors or astute young planning professionals.
While, historically these relationships were formed on a settlement-by-settlement basis, scaling settlement profiling to the city-level presents new opportunities and challenges. “How do we use and share citywide profiles information with various stakeholders community, local government, donors and academia?” elicited lively discussion and debate at the last East Africa Hub Meeting (November 17-22nd). The Hub meeting drew together federations and their support staff from Uganda, Tanzania and host Kenya around the theme: Community Profiling for Urban Planning.
At the local level and with their central governments, delegates agreed that the opportunities for data sharing included concrete involvement for inclusive urban planning and slum upgrading. The reliability of the data, when witnessed by local authority officials during the focus groups discussions, “creates a bond of trust from government to communities, especially through budget processes to support community projects and processes” (Report prepared by Muungana Wa Wanavijiji & Muungano Support Trust for the 10th East African Hub Meeting held in Mombasa, Kenya, 2013).
In planning schools across Africa and beyond, young professionals training in what may become one of the keystone academic disciplines for African cities in the next two decades, are exploring innovative strategies which speak directly to the spatial organizational demands of cities who like Kampala, Uganda accommodate 60% percent of its population on only about 16% of its available land. The value of data collected by slum/informal settlements is indisputable. But, planners alone do not a city build! Federation data collection teams are looking toward other academic partners eager to engage with and partner in the design of their development. As donors increase their reliance on grounded research and institutions like the World Bank and the UN include data collection as a priority in [their] post-2015 development goals, the question debated so enthusiastically at the East African Hub meeting, may also be turned to the formal world beyond the informal settlement: For whom of you will it become crucial to engage with slum/informal settlement communities in terms of data collection and analysis?
Edith Samia of the National Slum Dwellers Federation of Uganda being interviewed at the Local Climate Solutions for Africa (LOCS) conference.
By Mara Forbes, SDI Secretariat
“Climate change is improving on what we have so we can sustain in what we are doing.” Edith Samia, National Slum Dwellers of Federation of Uganda
A delegation from South Africa, Uganda, and Tanzania attended the second biannual Local Climate Solutions for Africa (LOCS) conference from October 30 to November 1 in Dar es Salaam hosted by ICLEI (Local Governments for Sustainability). Over 440 delegates attended the conference from 25 African countries. Of those, 300 were local government representatives, and of that 170 were heads of local governments (Mayors, Governors and Chairpersons). LOCS is a platform that brings together local government officials, academics, NGOs, private sector, and development partners to learn from each other and understand how local solutions can address the global climate change agenda.
Climate change is most frequently discussed in terms of a larger global issue rather then than a topic of national or local concern. More frequently this view has shifted to try and understand how climate change related issues are experienced at the local level and what resilience and adaptation efforts communities can provide to combat these effects. Those hit hardest by climate change live in countries that have low carbon footprints and have not created many of problems the world is facing. The global south, and particularly the urban poor in these countries, will be affected most from its negative impacts. They live in low-lying areas that suffer from heavy flooding, frequent landslides, droughts, and the like. Climate related risks are adding to the already existing challenges faced by the poor.
How do we take these global issues of climate change that are most often looked at from the large scale and understand how local initiatives can mitigate the effects? SDI took this opportunity to showcase how communities of the urban poor are addressing issues of climate change. Edith Samia of the National Slum Dwellers Federation of Uganda shared how communities in Uganda are creating and implementing innovative methods to mitigate climate change. For example, solid waste is being used to make charcoal briquettes. Briquettes are created by compacting loose biomass into solid blocks that can replace fossil fuels, charcoal, and firewood for cooking and heating. The community is able to collect and reuse the waste that accumulates in settlements and turn it into a form of energy, at the same time using this activity as an incoming generating project for community members. In Bwaise, an area that is prone to flooding from heavy rains, the community built a sanitation unit that also harvests rainwater. This water can be used for the flush toilets or can be sold by the jerry can, also an income-generating project.
For most, these measures are not understood as climate change but rather everyday activities that provide services, generate income, and improve their livelihoods. As Edith noted, “most of the communities don’t know about climate change and need capacity building and sensitization around this.” For communities of the urban poor these everyday practices demonstrate the innovative methods being used to make the urban poor more resilient to climate change impacts.
The LOCS platform opened a space that allowed local governments, academics, and NGO’s to come together to discuss how impacts of climate change can be addressed together. Spaces such as LOCS that aim to bring together various partners need to be cognizant of who is and is not included in these conversations. Communities that are affected most by the impacts of climate change need to be involved in the co-production of mitigation efforts. As Edith stated, “With such a big gathering we need to speak out, they [local government officials] sit too much and think about what to do for us, but we should be able to tell them what we need. Although community was at least given some time to talk, it was not enough. We are part of the problem but also the solution.”
By Skye Dobson, CCI, & SPARC
As with many projects in the SDI network, the Tanzanian federation’s community policing project was in large part inspired by the experience of slum dwellers during a peer-to-peer exchange. These exchanges are a key ritual in the SDI toolkit and the principal mechanism through which lessons are shared amongst the 1.2 million slum dwellers in the SDI movement. The exchange that catalyzed the Tanzanian project involved members from the Tanzanian Urban Poor Federation visiting the Indian federation in Mumbai.
In most of the slum settlements in which members of the Tanzanian Federation live, crime is an ever-present threat and police response has been inadequate. Slum dwellers in the Tanzanian Federation were frustrated by the inability of the police to effectively meditate conflicts within the community. The Tanzanian Federation learned that their fellow slum dwellers in India were running an effective community policing project and organized an exchange to Mumbai. To ensure maximum benefit from the exchange, the federation invited the Commissioner of Police for Dar-es-Salaam to accompany them.
The exchange participants learned that in Mumbai, where slums are notoriously under‐manned in terms of police personnel, the Indian federation launched the Panchayat project. The project has been successful in increasing citizens’ safety rights and addressing the distrust that exists between the poor and the police. Despite the fact that more than half of the population lives in slums, the Tanzanians learned that the proportion of the police allotted to these areas accounts for less than a third of the force.
The exchange revealed that the idea behind the Panchayat is that community disputes should be resolved at the local level whenever possible. The Panchayat mediates family and neighbor quarrels as well as instances of domestic violence. They have been able to do this effectively and thus greatly reduce the caseload for the police. Women form the majority of the Panchayat due to their in depth knowledge of the community and time spent at home.
The Panchayat members have gained such a positive reputation that they are now asked to help the police maintain peace and order when there are festivals in the city. They are also invited to meetings by the police department on critical issues. At present, there are 64 active Panchayats in Mumbai and the federation anticipates this number will grow.
The Tanzanians appreciated the community policing principle of dispute resolution at the local level. These slums disputes if not resolved can lead to serious and pervasive crime. Upon returning home, the Tanzanian Federation decided that this principle would form the core driver of the Tanzanian project, as well as civic education and counseling to youth and children on safety and crime prevention.
Implementation of the Tanzanian Federation community police program began with an enumeration focused on crime and safety within slum settlements in Dar es Salaam. The enumeration – a community conducted household survey – allows the federation to identify key priorities of the community.
Following the identification of areas and issues to be prioritized, the Federation established community police teams. Training and orientation of the community police on their roles and responsibilities was conducted and the federation worked hard with the regional police force to ensure the linkages between its work and that of the community police were clear.
In Tanzania, as with the Panchayat in India, the federation has been especially effective addressing domestic quarrels and disputes among neighbors. The central role of women in the implementation of the community policing is setting a new precedent for crime prevention within cities. Moreover, through the counseling program, slum youth are taught about the effects of drugs and the importance of attending school, which it also believes is reducing crime prevalence.
The implementation of Federation community policing program has thus prompted new thinking in the country’s slums, particularly regarding issues of crime and safety – so much so that the Chief of Police of Tanzania has encouraged all regions in Tanzania to initiate community police programs. Indeed, while the Federation community police program started in Dar-es-Salaam – where five Federation groups are now engaged in community policing activities – the initiative has since been expanded to Arusha, Dodoma and Mara. In each of these cities, the Tanzanian Federation has developed a very close working relationship with the Regional Police office. This has resulted in a shift in the way slum residents are viewed in matters of crime prevention.
As the Tanzanian Federation moves forward with its community policing project, it seeks to establish livelihood projects to support the work of the volunteers. While the federation has received financial support in Arusha and Dodoma from the regional police office, the federation thinks it wise to bring additional resources to the project to ensure a continuity of service. The community policing teams require small funds for communications, transport, and trainings. One group in Dodoma, for instance, has already begun supporting its activities by selling soft drinks. In addition, the federation hopes to secure more funds from the Government and private sector.
By Noah Schermbrucker, SDI Secretariat
Most native English speakers will recognize the word “fundi” as describing someone who is an expert within a specific field. During a recent SDI visit to Tanzania I was surprised to learn that the word originates from Swahili and its popular usage denotes anyone who has detailed knowledge and experience relating to a specific trade. For example computer, TV and cell phone fundi’s are experts in selling and maintaining their respective products. The knowledge and expertise that “fundis” possess can be acquired through informal channels and transferred to others through apprenticeships. The word resonates with the way that SDI rituals empower community members with the knowledge and skills to implement, manage and sustain their own practical interventions and how this knowledge can be transferred throughout the SDI network.
In Tanzania, federation members have, in the local vernacular, become toilet fundi’s. They have built, managed and maintained toilets in informal settlements such as Keko Machungwa in Dar es Salaam. Through the rituals of daily savings women have been able to access finance and toilets serving several families have been built. Technologies appropriate to the conditions of the settlement were selected and both men and women from the federation assisted in the toilets construction. Asha Muhidini, a federation member, explains “ Before our toilets were flooding, this meant that we had many problems with disease and there were often outbreaks in the settlement. Now this has been reduced. Many federation members are now toilet construction fundis and these are mostly women.” To date 9 toilets for federation members and 6 private toilets have been built in Keko Machungwa.
Federation built toilet
A community toilet block, managed by federation members has also been constructed at the market. A federation member informed me “The toilet at the market is benefiting everyone who does not have a toilet like visitors, stall owners and residents. We have learnt to keep the toilets clean, the mixing of disinfectants and we have learnt to manage the finances. A toilet attendant has a book where he records all the transactions.” The public toilet not only meets the sanitation needs of the community but also generates income for the federation members that manage it.
Public Toilet block next to the local market
Not only have the federation worked to improve sanitation within Keko Machungwa but also, with the assistance of the Centre for Community Initiatives (CCI), water boreholes have been drilled and water kiosks established. Buckets of water are sold to community members at each kiosk. The system is managed by a water committee and maintained by the community. A number of kiosks are dotted across the area. The community has also formed a solid waste collection team that not only keeps the streets clean but also collects garbage from houses on a weekly basis charging a small fee for the service. The refuse is then transported to a central point where it is collected by the local municipality. Toilet construction and management, water kiosks and solid waste management exemplify the transformative ability of a community-led process that gains traction precisely because it is anchored within a local socio-economic context and not externally determined.
Without formal training or much assistance from the government the residents of Keko Machungwa have begun to manage their own water, sanitation and environment. Using the solidarity created by daily savings federation members have begun to organize and improve their own communities. In doing so they have accumulated practical knowledge and expertise in building, maintaining and managing basic services. Creating the conditions in which this type of community based knowledge and experience can emerge is critical for a number of reasons.
Firstly, it practically demonstrates that communities are more than capable of managing their own development projects. Secondly, it builds community solidarity around tangible results that improve the entire community. Thirdly, it takes place in context. Nobody understands the unique contexts, politics, history and socio-economic challenges of an area like those living there. Projects that overlook these facets of community development have the potential to fail. Fourthly, since work is contextualized and practitioners are community members deliverables can be replicated in similar conditions in the city, especially since SDI comprises of a network of the urban poor who continuously meet and exchange ideas. The sharing of ideas, methods, successes and failures in a supportive environment comprising of people who face similar challenges negates deterministic top down relationships. Projects then have the potential of going to scale across informal settlements and the city.
The onus is on local authorities and national government to create the conditions in which community-led development can gain traction and go to scale. Evicting the poor from the city is never the answer. The Tanzanian example illustrates the amazing capacity of the urban poor to manage and develop their own communities with the little resources that they have. By creating pro-poor urban planning regulations, subsidizing centrally located land for the poor, providing basic amenities, regulating the formal market to cross-subsidize for the poorest of the poor, favoring incremental in-situ upgrading over eviction and advocating projects that are creative and people-centered, the role of the state is integral in achieving inclusive cities. SDI federations work to leverage these and other resources from the state, challenging the policies and mindsets that create conditions that exclude the urban poor from the benefits of the city.