The Hanang Floods Were a Sufficient Lesson! Are We still Clinging to Living in Valleys?

Share this article


The extreme weather and climate change jargon has become common in street talks, but its depth is not substantially explored. The terms have been uttered and mentioned, among others, as causes of ongoing climate events in Tanzania. They have become just sarcasm as we hear the repeated climatic disasters in the same shapes and patterns.

The recurrent overwhelming incidences are evidence of failures of systems to contain the problem related to climate disasters; it shows that there are still critical problems. The ecosystem’s capacity is overloaded, and continued infrastructure development, including housing, intensifies the situation.

This is merely a vast problem online in Tanzania and seamlessly globally. However, humankind is wise enough to provide an environment that enables natural and inverted systems to operate in the expected manner and contain unnecessary impacts.

In its recent report, the Tanzania Meteorological Services (TMA) indicated the recorded normal to above regular rainfall events forecasted for Dar es Salaam, Mwanza and Kigoma, among others. This rainfall caused destruction, including the pitiful Katesh incident in December 2023.

However, since the beginning of 2024, these events have kept unevenly multiplying in various parts of Tanzania and causing economic disruptions and property damages, among other things. The critical impacts are relatively significant in big cities, often in Dar es Salaam.

Again, this week, Dar es Salaam has experienced similarly severe destruction in its different suburbs. The extent of flooding was immeasurable, sweeping away vehicles, houses, livestock, and motorcycles and threatening human life. The cries have been severely affected across different areas, and they are frustrated about their lives and living spaces.

They are requesting help from government organs mandated to support such a population. Upon this occurrence, so much is happening, and discussions and opinions are aired by various people from all work of life unfiltered explicitly talks, but some may hold some water.

The blame can be directed to Wananchi for their settlement’s development in flood/disaster-prone areas. Nonetheless, the government also has a stake in this matter. One would ask, “Is there a long-term plan, or shall we end up providing temporal humanitarian support and leaving the condition the same and rest assured of an uncertain future?”. This simple question demands special attention as it carries an in-depth query.

The Vice President’s Office (VPO) is another crucial government organ responsible for disaster handling in the country. Among other things, it deals with disaster preparedness responsiveness and damage, needs assessment and recovery activities. It works parallel with TMA, which provides updates and forecasts of the weather conditions and anticipated or likelihood of causing threats.

These two organs are sufficient to handle the situation better if it happens, and when they collaborate with the Ministry of Land and Planning, they can deliver a permanent solution. The unanswered question is what is missing between these organs, resulting in such impacts regardless of the good policies and organizations in the same place which should have been identified as critical sites?

Unfortunately, we are having extreme weather conditions at the global level resulting from extreme temperature levels (rise and fall). The two extremes have devastating impacts whereby the falling temperature results in freezing, especially in the North and South Poles. On the other hand, the rising temperature has caused havoc and severe droughts, which ultimately impact living organisms, including humans.

Bearing in mind adjustments and preparedness in all aspects, we should anticipate such extreme climate events. The synchronization of these government organs is resolute to serve as an axle for reducing risks associated with global warming and its impact on humans. There is no excuse for these organs’ failure to arrest the effects during such climatic events as they are expected to have preparedness and response strategies. Indeed, they were established and budgeted for performing these duties and responsibilities.

We should acknowledge systemic failures in settlement planning for this most prominent city in Tanzania, which has a massive population, rapidly increasing infrastructures, and rambling settlement expansions. The urban drainage structures built to drain the effluent from residential premises are not sufficient and robust to cope with the growing pressure for development.

There have been intentional settlements along the valleys and basins, which should have been flood channels. These flood channels have been narrowing in size, and at the same time, they have been filled with domestic wastes, including plastics, which block and clog the gutters. Additionally, enormous siltation fills the tunnel and cannot allow the flow; hence, they progressively continue blocking the wastewater and flood tunnels.

READ RELATED: A Critical Call to Action: Tanzania’s Urgent Response to Climate-Induced Floods.

Here again, citizens have not consulted the responsible authorities before development, but at some levels, the authorities have also failed to make decisive measures. Now that we are under stress for urgent measures, there is no budget to handle the many political pledges to improve conditions, which are used as a campaign tool. The responsibilities have, in most times, been under the influence of political gain, disregarding long-term sustainable solutions.

For example, the Jangwani area in Dar es Salaam was developed, and investment was costly. However, in less than five years, we have seen scary flooding and destruction of the infrastructure due to climate disasters and floods. Who is to blame? Why is it repeating at the same place and with seamlessly the same conditions? Is that the failure of common wananchi or the responsible authorities?

Just recently, the minister from the responsible portfolio complained of low-standard engineering work by the contractor who tendered the task. This was so obvious that the authority was partly accountable for the site’s condition. In the separate occasion, the Regional Commissioner said “it is completely liability of those wananchi who have decided to acquire plot and settled along the flood prone areas, the flooding will help to resolve that”.

He further said since there is freedom, they will not continue putting much pressure on those individuals. The Wananchi seems reluctant to follow instructions, so the authority has become lax.

The talks have turned into a severe issue of concern, bearing in mind the tremendous economic loss the country continues to incur. Beyond the impact, as mentioned earlier, also the community is suffering psychologically since their life support systems and infrastructure are no longer in place, leaving aside some deaths and injuries sustained during these events.

The climate effects may take a long time as the roads, bridges, power poles, and water supplies are interrupted and may need more time to resume. There is also some chance of terminal diseases and other health threats as a result of the contamination of potable water. Therefore, we should recall our sleeping communal sense of sharing and helping those under stress from these disasters and continue our sustainable city planning and development agenda.

Dr. Emanueli Ndossi, a seasoned EIA and EA Expert, directs J & Enviroconsult (T) Ltd, with over a decade of experience. His expertise covers Project Management, Monitoring, and Evaluation (M&E) for comprehensive environmental assessments. Dr. Ndossi, with impactful roles in WCST, TFCG, and the University of Queensland, has shaped conservation efforts work spans diverse sectors, contributing to sustainable practices in tourism and conservation. Dr. Ndossi holds a Ph.D. in Environmental Science from the University of Göttingen and an M.Sc. in Environmental Management from the University of Queensland. His active engagement in organizations like ISIE, Carbon Lab, Soil Science Society of Germany, WCST, and FCC showcases his significant contributions to the environmental field.

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Leave a comment
scroll to top