Geospatial Data for Informed Urban Development in Secondary Cities — Morogoro, Tanzania

By Hawa Adinani

Fieldwork preparation with community leaders

Tanzania is the most flood-affected country in East Africa, and city governments across the country are underprepared to meet the challenges of urbanization, including the increased vulnerability to climate-related hazards. Tanzanian towns and cities have undergone a massive spatial expansion while little data exist to support authorities in making informed decisions.

Data availability plays an important role in urban planning and sustainable city development. Geospatial data becomes more critical when the city/town is growing rapidly with limited infrastructure systems which normally result in flooding and ineffective waste management.

There is growing recognition by the Government of Tanzania (GoT) and development partners i.e The World Bank and The United Kingdom’s, Foreign Common-Wealth and Development Office (FCDO) who have partnered to take proactive and preventive actions to minimize and better manage future risks through the Tanzania Urban Resilience Program (TURP). TURP employs coordinated and strategic action to improve Tanzania’s ability to prepare for, respond to, and adapt to a changing climate.

In 2015, the World Bank started efforts to fill the existing data gaps during the implementation of one of the largest open community mapping projects — the Ramani Huria project. The project mapped over 40 wards of Dar es Salaam, making it the most detailed mapped city in Africa on OpenStreetMap — a free editable map of the world. These efforts were replicated in other cities such as Mwanza so as to create openly available geospatial datasets to support decisions.

In September 2021, OpenMap Development Tanzania (OMDTZ) in partnership with Tanzania Resilience Academy supported by the World Bank, replicated the efforts in Morogoro urban which is one of the fastest-growing secondary cities in Tanzania. Though still a young city, Morogoro is already facing seasonal flooding due to inadequate drainage and solid waste management systems. Providing datasets to support decisions regarding these challenges at an early stage will save the city from critical flooding and uncontrolled growth.

Field mapping team in Morogoro, Photo: Hebron Geofrey

The mapping was conducted in collaboration with Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA), where 43 students were trained on open geospatial technologies for data collection and analysis such as OpenDataKit (ODK), JOSM, QGIS etc. Working with university students is not only cost-effective but a means of imparting knowledge and skills to university students on city development and the complexities of urban challenges and how important it is to have detailed data in making decisions pertaining to urban planning and resilience.

Students were able to map 10 wards (59 subwards) of Morogoro urban and the collected data includes post-flood household mapping and important amenities found such as schools and hospitals. The mapping was conducted by using community mapping approaches by working directly with communities of specific wards.

A map showing community responses on flood experience, Mwembesongo ward, Morogoro

The data collected is being analyzed and will be shared back to different stakeholders that are potential data users including the World Bank-financed project — Tanzania Strategic Cities project, community leaders, and others.

Using Open Data, Open Source, and maps to solve different socio-economic challenges.