Zacharia Masesa moved to the city to change his life. Ten years ago, he arrived in Dar es Salaam from Mtwara, a town in the southeast of Tanzania, and soon found a job as salesman in a shop in the bustling Kariakoo business district. Now the 37-year-old lives with his wife and their two children in a modest home that he built himself.
But these days, Masesa’s life is changing in ways that make him worry. When he bought the plot of land for his house, in the Chanika neighbourhood of Temeke district, he did not know that it was a low-lying area prone to flooding.
In 2011, Masesa’s family was nearly killed by floods that engulfed his house after heavy rains. Since he and his family moved into their new home three years ago, flash floods have become ever more frequent, due in part to the lack of drainage systems.
“I had to carry my children on my shoulders to get them to safety,” he recalls. Most of his property, including a music system given to him by his boss as a wedding present, was destroyed.
“I don’t have my peace of mind,” he says. “Whenever it rains, I know at some point the floods will come.”
Temeke is among several areas of Dar es Salaam increasingly susceptible to flash floods due to changes in weather patterns, which experts believe are linked to climate change. Despite this, the district has attracted thousands of people migrating from elsewhere in the country because it provides migrants with unregulated land that they can build on.
Most residents of Temeke have learned to cope with the risk of flooding. Some, for instance, have designed their houses to enable them to store their valuables in the ceiling.
During the flood season, some young men earn money by moving flood-affected people and their belongings out of their flooded homes on pull carts. They charge between 1,000 and 5,000 Tanzanian shillings ($0.60-$3) depending on the work done.
“You never know when the floods will be coming. You have to save some money to pay these young men to assist you,” said Shafi Hussein, a local resident.
Masesa spends a great deal of his time in the dry season, which runs from June to November, protecting his house with sand bags in a bid to keep future flood waters at bay.
“I don’t take chances here, for I know the end of one flood season is probably the beginning of the other,” he says.
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania’s largest city, is among the fastest growing coastal cities in Africa. Its population of 3.5 million is expected to surge to over 10 million by 2040.
Said Meck Sadick, the regional commissioner, says that the influx of people into Dar is caused by socio-economic factors such as poverty in rural areas, in large part due to prolonged drought.
“People abandon farming because they don’t see the way forward as their livelihoods are sorely dependent on rain-fed agriculture,” concurs Samuel Wangwe, a senior researcher with Policy Research for Development, or REPOA, a Tanzanian development research institution.
As Dar rapidly urbanises, most poor residents are pushed into zones prone to flooding and vulnerable to sea-level rise.
For the complete article, please see Thomson Reuters.