OMDTZ Collects Data to Address Litter Management Challenges in Dar es Salaam Using Open Mapping

OpenMap Development Tanzania
4 min readMay 27, 2024

Written by Aisha Hamisi

Litter, defined as any solid waste produced and discarded in the environment, poses significant challenges in urban areas like Dar es Salaam. Litter stems from various sources, including inadequate waste collection systems and direct human disposal. It not only blights urban landscapes but also migrates through drainage systems, eventually reaching water bodies like rivers and oceans. Geographical areas downstream of river systems are particularly prone to litter accumulation. Recognizing the severity of the problem, the World Bank is conducting a city-level analysis in Dar es Salaam to develop Integrated Litter Management Strategies. This initiative aims to mitigate the impact of litter on urban areas, waterways, and coastal ecosystems by identifying gaps in waste collection services and proposing strategic improvements.

OMDTZ is leading a 7-month World Bank-funded project on Solid waste management Baseline survey in Dar es Salaam. The project involves mass household data collection and ground truthing using open source tools, i.e., OpenDataKit and QGIS, to better understand solid waste management services and environmental cleaning services in Dar es Salaam. In 2021, we conducted a similar initiative under Tanzania Urban Resilience Programme (TURP) using the same methodology in seven wards around the lower Msimbazi Valley — See this blog to learn more.

A Mapper collecting details of an open waste collection point near a drain channel in Tabata ward

OMDTZ has recognized the valuable role university students and graduates can play in data collection efforts. By collaborating with institutions like the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM), ARDHI University, the Institute of Rural Development Planning (IRDP), and St. Augustine University of Tanzania, OMDTZ offers students a unique opportunity to contribute to real-world projects. This approach achieves multiple goals. First, students gain practical experience in data collection methodologies, enhance their skills, and make them more competitive in the job market. Second, it fosters a sense of community ownership over the collected data, as students directly engage with their study areas. Ultimately, this student-centric approach strengthens OMDTZ’s data collection efforts while simultaneously building capacity within Tanzania’s future workforce.

OMDTZ has conducted a week-long training and trained 52 mappers who are working to collect data in 43 wards of Dar es Salaam. The training equipped them with the necessary skills for data collection and community engagement in general, including mastering ODK Collect tool, a user-friendly data collection tool that collects enormous amount of data and works offline. The training also included aspects of effective communication with the community, proper photographic techniques for capturing essential visuals alongside the data, safety protocols while in the field, etc.

a map of 43 wards selected for data collection

ODK’s flexibility has been a key asset for OMDTZ in managing data collection across various projects. Unlike traditional paper surveys, ODK forms can be completed quickly (within 15–20 minutes) and are accessible in multiple languages, including Swahili and English. This ensures a wider range of participants can contribute without language barriers, a crucial factor in a diverse city like Dar es Salaam. This efficiency and inclusivity are evident in OMDTZ’s recent solid waste management project. The ODK platform enabled the development of a user-friendly survey that was carefully reviewed by stakeholders and collected accurate data to assess the city’s waste situation.

“The Solid Waste Management project training equipped me with the skills to use ODK Collect for data collection, I learned how to properly gather information ensure its accuracy, and use location features to find my assigned areas. On top of that, OMDTZ provided essential tools like phones, safety reflectors, and, most importantly, rain boots as its rainy season in Dar es Salaam. These resources have made my job significantly easier and allow me to collect data comfortably .” “ Mwaja Lupaa, a SWM mapper. “

Recognizing the importance of community engagement, OMDTZ fosters a collaborative environment by working hand-in-hand with local community leaders, famously known as wajumbe and Balozi in some other parts of the country. These leaders are invaluable bridges between the mappers and the residents, as they are well known and trusted by the community and understand the community structures well. Prior to data collection, OMDTZ organizes meetings with ‘wajumbe’ to introduce the project’s goals and the role of the mappers. This not only builds trust within the community but also creates a project ownership environment, creating a favourable environment for information sharing from the community members. During data collection, wajumbe are paired with mappers, particularly in informal areas and areas with challenging access, ensuring their safety and smooth navigation when collecting data.

‘Mjumbe’ assisting mapper during data collection in Tabata- Msimbazi street

What is next?

We anticipate finalizing data collection in mid- July and we will share key findings in a blog post detailing;

  1. Data validation workshop inputs: The solid waste technical working group from each of Dar es Salaams’ five municipalities and additional practitioners from a few wards will participate in the validation workshop. This workshop aims to verify the data obtained in the individual wards, and provide additional information on solid waste services and future plans related to the data.
  2. A comprehensive report will be developed detailing the data collection methodology, findings, challenges and recommendations. The report will be shared with the World Bank and will be used to understand better and plan to reduce the impact of litter in urban areas, waterways, and coastal ecosystems.
  3. An insightful blog post will be published detailing the process and key findings

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OpenMap Development Tanzania

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