Flooding, flood risks and coping strategies in urban informal residential areas: the case of Keko Machungwa, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

16 August 2013

This article presents findings from a study carried out in Keko Machungwa informal settlement in Dar es Salaam under the auspices of the Disaster Management Training Centre of Ardhi University, Tanzania. The settlement has experienced frequent flooding in the past five years, and this study explores the causes, risks, extent of flooding and coping strategies of residents as well as municipality and city officials. Key methods employed in capturing empirical evidence included mapping of zones by severity of flooding, interviews with households, sub-ward leaders, and municipal and city officials. Non-participant observation, primarily taking photographs, complemented these methods. Laboratory tests of water samples taken from shallow wells in the settlement were performed to establish the level of pollution. In addition, records of prevalence of water-borne diseases were gathered from a dispensary within the settlement to corroborate flooding events, water pollution and occurrence of such diseases. Findings show that flooding is contributed to by the lack of a coordinated stormwater drainage system; haphazard housing development within the valley; and blocking of the water stream by haphazard dumping of solid waste and construction. Risks associated with flooding include water and air pollution, diseases, waterlogging and blocked accessibility. The most common coping strategies at household level are use of sandbags and tree logs; raised pit latrines and doorsteps; provision of water outlet pipes above plinth level; construction of embankments, protection walls and elevation of house foundations; seasonal displacement; and boiling and chemical treatment of water. Recommendations for future action at household, community and city level are made.