Data to Support Strategic Advice on Solid Waste Management in the Lower Msimbazi River Valley — Dar es Salaam

OpenMap Development Tanzania
3 min readAug 31, 2021


By Hawa Adinani

Photo: Wilfred Chomba

In Dar es Salaam, it is estimated that only 40 percent of waste is collected and disposed of at the official dumpsite of Pugu Kinyamwezi. The remaining waste (over 2,800 tons per day) is burned, buried and thrown into rivers and drains, to the detriment of public health. For example, litter blocks already insufficient drains and waterways, exacerbating the issue of flooding and the prevalence of vector-borne diseases.

Lack of baseline data remains a critical challenge that hinders the development of comprehensive and sustainable solid waste management systems in Tanzanian cities. To solve this, the Tanzania Urban Resilience Program (TURP) is supporting data collection and mapping initiatives that are led by OMDTZ to support wider dialogue identifying strategic options for improvement to solid waste management and environmental cleaning services in the Lower Msimbazi River Basin. This initiative will contribute to the World Banks’ efforts of transforming the Msimbazi River from liability to opportunity.

A map showing the seven surveyed wards in the lower Msimbazi Valley

The Msimbazi Basin covers an area of 271 square kilometers and is home to nearly a third of the population of one of the fastest-growing cities in Africa. Historically, the river served as an important water source, and the fertile floodplain provided prime land for agriculture and animal grazing. However, with time, changing climate and uncontrolled settlements along the river have caused it to become the most flooded valley in Dar es Salaam.

OMDTZ is leading a mass data collection and ground truth mapping using open source platforms, i.e. OpenDataKit and QGIS to better understand solid waste management services and environmental cleaning services in the seven wards in the Lower Msimbazi River Valley. We have reported earlier on how geospatial data can help improve solid waste management and service provision with a clear comparison between formal and informal settlements.

To collect the data, OMDTZ collaborated with the Tanzania Resilience Academy and worked with university students from Ardhi University and the University of Dar es Salaam. The collaboration will not just speed the data collection process but also improve digital skills for students creating an army of students who are conversant with a practical understanding of complex challenges associated with cities’ growth.

Trash piles outside the house during collection day — Magomeni, Dosi subward. Photo: Wilfred Chomba

What is the Data Saying?

The collected data in the surveyed area showed communities’ desire of having effective waste management systems, as most of them are already paying for the existing services, which are ineffective and lack consistency — over 60% of the interviewed community members responded that they have collection services but it’s often unscheduled making them unable to track the collection days.

Waste disposal surveys show that over 16% of the respondents that handle waste by themselves are located near river banks. This analysis shows why most of the rivers are loaded with waste as communities use the rivers as their disposal sites. See the visual below:

A map showing how community members of surveyed area dispose of their waste

From the survey, communities are willing to pay for an improved waste management system as over 80% are already paying for the existing systems, which are often ineffective. The data collected have the potential to support strategic plans in waste collection, but also inform waste collectors on the gap of services provided and how they can improve their operations. OMDTZ will organize a workshop with different actors including waste collection service providers to share the findings of the survey and discuss how the data can be used to improve the service provided.

“The more information a waste management company has on the clients, the better they are able to provide service and revenue collection” — Innocent Maholi, Executive Director, OMDTZ



OpenMap Development Tanzania

Open-source tech & geodata for managing & solving community's socio-economic and humanitarian challenges