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Adapting to Climate Change in Coastal Dar es Salaam

Place: tanzania, Africa
Sustainable management of natural resources Sustainable management of natural resources
Total Budget: € 1.047.514,00 | Period: From February 2011 To August 2014


The ACC DAR project aims to contribute to the implementation of the National Adaptation Programme of Action that the Tanzanian government prepared in 2007 as a response to the impacts of climate change on the economy and the people's well being.
The action is funded by the EU and focuses on Dar es Salaam, the largest city in Tanzania. It seeks to improve the effectiveness of local government authorities in supporting the adaptation strategies already in practice in coastal peri-urban neighborhoods to cope with rapid build-up of land and salinization of vital water resources.
The results are threefold. First, the capacities of municipal services to set up adaptation goals in a participatory way and integrate them into their plans are enhanced. Second, locally tailored methodologies for assessing climate change impacts and vulnerability are developed. Third, multi-level initiatives to improve the sustainability of rural-urban livelihoods in coastal African cities are identified.


Department of Civil, Building and Environmental Engineering, Sapienza University of Rome - Italy

Lead applicant

The DICEA brings together research and teaching in a range of fields, including geo-information science and earth observation, water resources and infrastructure, sanitation and solid waste management, transportation, spatial planning, urban design, and architecture. In 2010, an interdisciplinary research group on issues related to Climate Change Adaptation was set up. Its overall aim is to develop an approach and a set of tools for the assessment of vulnerability to climate change in coastal peri-urban areas, in order to support decision making in adaptation policy, planning, and action at the local level. Three specific objectives are pursued: i) downscaling of global climatic scenarios; ii) assessing coastal aquifers’ sensitivity to seawater intrusion under conditions of climate change and urban sprawl; iii) mainstreaming community-based adaptation goals into existing plans for urban development and environmental management. The ACCDAR project is a major initiative by this group.

Dar es Salaam City Council - Tanzania

Initiative partner

The DCC is the governing body for executing City administrative duties through the City Director and three Heads of Departments, namely: 1) City Administrative Officer in charge of Finance and Administration; 2) City Economist in charge of Planning and Coordination of development activities; 3) City Planner in charge of Urban Planning, Environment and Utilities Services. The DCC operates in the same jurisdictional areas of the Municipalities of Kigamboni, Ilala and Temeke. Its functions include the following: to coordinate the powers and functions of the three Municipalities regarding infrastructure; prepare a coherent City–wide framework for the purpose of enhancing sustainable development; promote cooperation between the City Council and amongst Municipalities within the City area; deal with all matters for which there is interdependency among the Municipalities; support and facilitate the overall performance of the authorities; and, provide peace and security and emergency services.

Ardhi University - Tanzania

Initiative partner

ARU provides graduate, postgraduate, MSc, PhD and Certificate level education in Architecture and Design, Construction Economics and Management, Environmental Sciences and Technology, Geospatial Science and Technology, Urban and Regional Planning, Real Estates Studies, Housing and Information Systems Management. Some of its main functions as summarized from the ARU Charter 2007 are: i.) To preserve, enhance and transmit knowledge by teaching and conducting research; ii.) To conduct quality and practice-oriented programmes at higher education levels; iii.) To engage in applied research and use the results to improve teaching, learning and the provision of public service; iv.) To provide consultancy and advisory services; v) To be producer and supplier of key policy market experts and personnel for national development. vi.) To establish mutually negotiated, beneficial and durable links with higher learning and research institutions at national, regional and global level.

Building the sustainability of rural-urban communities in a changing climate is the key to guaranteeing a fair and prosperous future to the Sub-Saharan city.

The action addresses local planning for adaptation to climate change, by developing an innovative approach to reducing vulnerability in Sub-Saharan cities. First, rural-urban livelihood strategies are viewed as a source of adaptive capacity for the entire city, rather than a detriment to urban sustainability. As such, local authorities must support those strategies while preventing over-exploitation of natural resources (maladaptation). Second, the current urban development model is recognized as a structural cause of vulnerability. Consequently, the adaptation goals are formulated with the inhabitants as a combination of changes to be undertaken in order to achieve a transition to a sustainable city, and not as way of protecting current development modalities. Third, adaptation to climate change is viewed as an opportunity to improve the efficacy of existing plans and programs as opposed to a pretext for formulating new plans ad hoc that would likely never be enacted.

Adapting in the peri-urban Investigating the interaction between autonomous adaption practices and the characteristics of peri-urban households is essential to understanding households’ vulnerability to environmental change. Households’ characteristics influence how people access and manage natural resources, where they locate, what activity they do, which in turn might promote or limit specific adaptation practices. Negative environmental impacts might also be associated to some adaptation practices (mal-adaptation).
The current development model At the fringes of rapidly growing cities of Sub-Saharan Africa, the expansion of built-up areas together with unsustainable exploitation of the environment is already threatening natural ecosystems, thus reducing livelihood options for peri-urban residents.
The rural-urban livelihood The urban-rural interface refers to the areas in cities where urban and rural features and processes meet, intertwine, and interact. These areas are recognized as crucial for transition to sustainable development because of their potential to change both urban and rural systems for the better. Meanwhile they offer great opportunities for people to diversify their livelihoods, which could be useful for adaptation to changes that are coming, such as climate change.

The food and agricultural sector is key to the economy of Dar es Salaam, and of Tanzania in general. Much of the agricultural output of south-eastern Africa passes through the port in Dar on its way to the rest of the world, as do many of the products imported into Africa from more developed nations. Produce from the African continent destined for the Tanzanian population is processed in the city’s industrial areas. The coast is punctuated with fishing docks and markets, and peri-urban territories and green urban spaces are used for cultivation and animal husbandry. Recognizing the historical role of urban and peri-urban agriculture in the development of Dar es Salaam and the strategic importance that it now represents in terms of the city’s food security, the action proposes to ensure sustainability in the face of anticipated environmental changes caused by a combination of climate change and urban expansion.

A fishing haven Fishing is concentrated around coral reefs, mangrove swamps and seagrasses which are among the productive ecosystems along the coast. The fisheries is mainly artisanal and is conducted by local community but sometimes seasonal fishers from Unguja, Pemba, and Kilwa take advantage of periodic abundance of schooling pelagic species such as sardine, fusilier, kingfish and tunas. Invertebrates of particular importance to local communities include lobsters, octopus, squids, prawns, and crabs.
A food port Dar es Salaam port has a rated capacity of 4.1 million DWT dry cargo and 6.0 million DWT bulk liquid cargo and a total quay length of about 2,000 metres with eleven deep-water berths. The port handles about 95% of the Tanzania international trade and also serves the landlocked countries of Malawi, Zambia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda. It is strategically placed to serve as a freight linkage not only to and from East and Central Africa countries but also to middle and Far East, Europe, Australia and America.
An agricultural city Dar es Salaam’s urban producers supply an estimated 95 000 litres of milk, 6 000 trays of eggs, and 11 000 kilograms of poultry to city residents every day. Each year, they grow some 100 000 tons of crops, including staples such as cassava, sorghum, maize, rice, sweet potatoes, bananas, legumes, cashew nut, coconuts, oranges, pineapples, mangoes, and vegetables.

Today, the urban agendas for adaptation to climate change place an emphasis on the management of extreme weather events, which are recognized as a major threat to the city’s central district. This action shifts attention to the peri-urban areas that guarantee the conditions for development of the city’s core, and focuses on slow and incremental environmental changes which are likely to jeopardize the sustainability of rural-urban livelihood systems. In this view, progressive salinization of the coastal aquifer in connection with seawater intrusion is a key to adaption in Dar es Salaam. Following an analysis of the current situation and future scenarios, a series of amendments were formulated for the plans and programs that regulate city expansion and environmental management of the coastal plain, the purpose of which is to conserve water resources and guarantee access to water for domestic and productive uses, including irrigation and urban agriculture, in the near future.

The seawater intrusion process In order to provide a series of enhanced methodologies for improving municipal activities related to climate change issues in the water management sector, the specific environmental phenomenon of seawater intrusion was investigated. This phenomenon is already contributing - and will increasingly contribute as climate change progresses - to the degradation of those natural resources on which a large part of Dar es Salaam’s peri-urban livelihoods depend.
../file-system/small/pdf ../file-system/small/pdf Analysis of the sensitivity to seawater intrusion of coastal aquifer The overall objective of this study is to explore the current degree of seawater intrusion into Dar es Salaam’s coastal aquifer, and its relationships with climatic conditions and urbanization processes, in order to identify the areas of the city with the highest priority for adaptation action implementation. More specifically, the study aims to assess the local hydrogeological and geochemical dynamics determining the phenomenon, as well as the anthropogenic and climatic factors that have influenced its present condition.

Many people in Dar es Salaam live in spontaneous low-density settlements and survive thanks to a skilful mix of urban and rural activities. Conserving the rich natural resources of the region is fundamental to their survival, and to that of the city. The action focuses on communities in the coastal plain, where access to fresh water is jeopardized by the progressive salinization of wells caused by the combined effects of urban expansion and climate change. The common hope, identified through participatory theatre workshops with inhabitants, is that each house will have a 2000 litre water tank in which to accumulate fresh water, which families currently obtain from one of the 3 available sources: the hydro network, when it’s working; water vendors, whose prices are exorbitant when the hydro network isn’t working; and rain, which falls in abundance only a few months of the year.

How to overcome challenges A set of options for action were defined based on information that emerged during the participatory process. Aspirations, problems, obstacles, and conflicts were explored at the community level by using an original combination of backcasting scenario and social theater techniques that prove to be highly effective.
Water sellers The local community recognizes water sellers as key actors in decision making towards a safe and sure water future, the other being private well owners and managers of community wells
We have a dream The shared vision that emerged during the participatory process corresponds to a future scenario in which every family in the community has access to a sufficient amount of water for their domestic and productive purposes. The amount of water desired is 2000 L/day per household (this is the volume of many of the water tanks found on the roofs of wealthy families’ houses).
Exploring adaptation options Video of the participatory activities conducted during the Action to identify through theatre the challenges people are facing as a consequence of urban growth and groundwater salinization, and to understand the strategies they adopt to cope with them.
../file-system/small/pdf ../file-system/small/pdf Participatory Backcasting So that the population’s aspirations, problems and proposals for accessing water can be understood and introduced into adaptation planning at the community level, a specific participatory methodology for building scenarios was developed and tested through a scenario exercise in a peri-urban area within Dar es Salaam’s coastal plain.

Activities were carried out by a team of about 50 people of various ages and background. Sapienza University provided professors, researchers, and students in various fields of environmental engineering – spatial planning, hydrogeology, and climatology – in addition to experts in social theatre and public administration training. Ardhi University mobilized staff of the environmental science and technology school, including lab technicians and numerous students. In addition, about 40 technicians from the local administration participated in on-site training. The action also relied on the constant support of the local government for fieldwork, and on the collaboration of a pool of researchers from African and European universities for the annual evaluation of project results. Activities were coordinated by Silvia Macchi and Gabriel Kassenga, with the valuable managerial support of Laura Fantini.

ACCDAR Organigramme The core working group was made up of staff and students from the two university partners, who worked closely with technical staff and representatives from the local authorities, under the direction of a coordinating board and with the support of three expert teams.
Club Wazo theater group Club Wazo, a local company of artists, was responsible for the artistic preparation and staging of the live performance that served as a basis for discussion in the Theater Forum events conducted throughout the city’s surroundings. Their commitment and professionalism were essential to success of the participatory activities, involving more than 2,000 inhabitants from Dar es Salaam’s peri-urban settlements.
Junior researchers and students Extensive field work, including a 6000 household survey for investigation of rural-urban livelihoods and a 100 borehole monitoring campaign for assessing seawater intrusion, was made possible by the dedication of the many junior researchers and students over the three year action.
Municipal technical staff Technical staff from the local authorities made key contribution to the mainstreaming of adaptation into existing plans and programs. They identified key areas of integration, in which adaptation to climate change goes hand-in hand with other development priorities and building resilience in natural and human systems, and were also able to develop basic elements of an implementation plan. Moreover, they provided advice and support to the university staff in all phases of the action.

Despite the work being done at Tanzanian universities, knowledge of the environment remains incomplete and cannot rely on systematic monitoring in Dar es Salaam. The action therefore seeks to reconstruct the evolution of land use through analysis of satellite images and of seawater intrusion in the coastal aquifer on the basis of historical data and ad hoc campaigns. This led to greater workload during the fact-finding phase than originally anticipated, but it also allowed for the development of an innovative methodology in both sectors. The environmental monitoring instruments and strategies used during the action offer local administrations the possibility of advancing the quality of their planning and evaluation of interventions to control urban growth and manage water resources, and therefore contributes to rendering development of the entire Dar es Salaam Region more sustainable.

Monitoring private boreholes Damaging of borehole fittings jeopardized the willingness of borehole owners to continue cooperating with the monitoring team. For this reason, boreholes needed careful handling to the extent that it was not possible to accomplish measurements of all 88 boreholes in the planned time period. Moreover, 9 boreholes out of 88 could not be measured because they were no longer working due to defective pumps and electrical connection problems among other reasons.
Remote sensing and clouds High cloud cover over Dar es Salaam during most of the year considerably limited the number and frequency of satellite images potentially usable for land cover classification and necessitated image mosaicking, thus increasing the effort required for classification and the spectral variability of images.
Sampling an unknown universe In 2011, a questionnaire was administered to a sample of 5,860 households in the coastal plain of Dar es Salaam, for the purpose of analyzing people‘s adaptive capacity. Interviewers selected a sample of 5% households simply by counting 20 households from the last one interviewed. As all interviewed households were georeferenced with a GPS, an unexpected information emerged from the field work: household density. This opens the possibility to estimate the population on the basis of land cover classification.

The inputs that the action offered to local authorities in Dar es Salaam as regards integrating participatory adaptation objectives into existing plans and programs sought to improve the environmental sustainability of rural-urban communities, thereby also improving the future development of the entire urban region. This included measures to optimize forestry management (a key element to the conservation of natural resources and the climate), to achieve a consumption level of water resources that is compatible with recharge rates and new climatic balances, to increase community participation in decision-making processes that impact the future of settlements and livelihood systems, and to support the transition of urban and peri-urban agriculture towards low-impact and low-carbon farming techniques.

Changing plans already in place The action led to develop a methodology for mainstreaming adaptation into existing urban development and environmental management plans of cities in Sub-Saharan Africa. This methodology was tested on four planning documents in Dar es Salaam: two at the municipal level (i.e. Temeke Municipal Council’s Strategic Plan and Medium Term Expenditure Framework for years 2010/2011 - 2012/2013) and two at the city level (Dar es Salaam Master Plan 2012-2032 and Water Supply and Sanitation Plan, both of them at the draft stage

The action produced knowledge, methodologies, and capacities aimed at long-term transformation of the intervention by local authorities in Dar es Salaam regarding urban development and environmental management, thereby rendering it more effective in supporting the adaptation strategies of the population settled on the coastal plain. In the short term, the analysis of existing plans and programs has identified a series of already planned interventions that may contribute to improving local adaptive capacity, and they could therefore immediately access Adaptation Fund resources. In addition, each of the local authorities involved in the action has developed specific project proposals and has identified sources of financing to operationalize them in the near future. In particular, it is worth mentioning the proposal “Adapting Temeke Through Sustainable Water Cycle Management” which builds on lessons learned from the ACCDAR project.

The Training Toolkit A toolkit is under preparation that will gathers all material produced during the training experience which involved 38 techncial staff from Dar es Salaam City Council, Kinondoni Municipal Council, Ilala Municipal Council, Temeke Municipal Council and the Wami Ruvu Basin Authority.

The results of the action have been disseminated in two ways: through traditional scientific channels (books, articles, and conferences) at the international level, and through specific initiatives (workshops, forum theatre events, and manuals) at the local level. With respect to the former, the choice to involve a pool of African and European academics in the annual evaluation of results has proven particularly fruitful, as it has brought several project outputs to the attention of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Chance – Working Group II, which has cited them in its Fifth Assessment Report. Regarding the latter, the forum theatre events carried out in collaboration with local actors and musicians has involved more than 2000 inhabitants of the coastal plain and has sensitized them to the impacts of climate change. A booklet and a toolkit are currently being prepared to share online the capacity building experience obtained through the action.

The action website The action website - - offers a wide range of open access material covering all results achieved in terms of knowledge, methodologies and capacity building. Three databases are freely available to download in order to facilitate result transferability: Land Cover Classifications for years 2002/04/07/09/11/12, Borehole Monitoring Database, and Household Questionnaire Data Matrix.