Community mapping starts at Dar es Salaam
The community arrived on time as expected and so were the students from department of Urban Planning from University of Ardhi University. This is a unique partnership through which students bring their expertise while community contributes their experience for development.
Tandale is one of the wards in Dar es Salaam and is made up of six sub-wards. The ward has a development committee and there is an Executive Ward Officer who oversees the implementation of government policies at the ward level. Some wards like Masese have been fairly developed and has improved infrastructure courtesy of World Bank support under the Community Infrastructure Upgrading Program facility. The story is different in the neighbouring which is prone to flooding, poor access road and drainage / sanitation system. However people are wonderful and despite it being a ‘mtaa’ as our host described it one cannot compared it to places like Mathare and Kibera. It is far much better.
As in all workshops there was a brief introduction on the purpose of the Tandale mapping project which was ‘to introduce use of participatory technologies for development in Tandale by producing a base map and starting community media initiative.
The forum was started off by a speech by Tandale Word Executive Manager. More than 37 people including community members. Participants were happy to learn that they can be able to produce a map about their community and use to engage with the government and NGOs in the development and improvement of infrastructure. Currently Tandale and most of Dar es Salaam appears as blank spot on the Open Street Map platform.
Some of the suggestion participants shared on how maps and the use of citizen reporting can be used for development included;
– The map produced will help improve dialogue between community and development partners for infrastructure improvements
– Through citizen mapping, the community will highlight its own issues as opposed to mainstream media which focuses on mostly the negatives
– The use of map and community reporting will help stimulate adoption of local solution to problems faced by the communities
– The community will acquire new skills in ICT helpful in mass circulation / distribution of information
For the next four weeks, Map Kibera Trust will be in Dar es Salaam training community members and students on community participatory mapping skills, use of simple technologies and citizen reporting.
LESSON LEARNT: Communities are capable of interpreting maps they have participated in developing and using it to initiate dialogue with development partners and government agencies. What communities needs is ‘method’ of presenting the data collected.