How did 300 people whose homes had been demolished buy 30 acres of land for resettlement in Tanzania?

When the homes of 36,000 people are demolished to expand Tanzania’s Dar Es Salaam port, the community swing into action together to build new homes.

Caroline Anande Uliwa
23 April 2018


Photo courtesy of the Centre for Community Initiatives.

Photo courtesy of the Centre for Community Initiatives. Felistas Komba, or Mama Komba as she is commonly referred to, worked for 18 years as the local government elected chair of Kurasini Street in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. She no longer works for the local government but Mama Komba remembers when, in 2006, the Tanzanian government carried out an expansion of the Dar es Salaam port. There had been a large increase in the goods handled by the city’s port – which is in the same area as the Kurasini Ward, an informally occupied area.

That year, Tanzania’s government demolished 7,351 houses in Kurasini to expand the port, leaving about 36,000 people evicted with their homes destroyed.

30% of the population of Tanzania, estimated at over 36 million, live in urban areas. Cities like Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar are growing at a rate of between 7 and 11% per year, according to UN Habitat. The east African country is also one of the poorest in the world with half of the population living on less than $1 per day. Indeed, 70% of all people in Dar-es-Salaam live in informal settlements with no security for tenure, which poses eviction threats when Government wishes to takes their land for development purposes.

But the pressure for land to accommodate port-related activities – which trades goods to Zambia, Malawi, Burundi, Rwanda, the Congo and Zimbabwe – increased and the Ministry of Lands and Human Development and the Tanzania Ports Authority decided to redevelop Kurasini.

“In this eviction of residents in the Kurasini Ward, which so far has seen the demolishing of more than 7300 homes, where do these people go?” Mama Komba asked.

“In this eviction of residents in the Kurasini Ward, which so far has seen the demolishing of more than 7300 homes, where do these people go?” 

The Ministry of Lands and Human Development had originally stipulated that there would be compensation after the demolition – but only for the owners of the structures. The package the owners were offered, according to the Ministry’s action plan, included compensation for the house structures, the land values, out-buildings, vegetation, a disturbance allowance, a three-year rental allowance to give them time to build their new homes as well as the transportation costs and, for those who had business, compensation for the loss of profits. But tenants, who formed 80% of the evicted people, did not quality for compensation.

And confusion reigned. Somewhat exasperated, Mama Komba explained that, first, they were told they were to buy affordable land in Kibada, in the south-east of Dar es Salaam (population 4 million). But when they arrived there, plots of land had already been claimed – some of which by the local authorities – and Mama Komba had still not received the compensation promised.

In response, the Tanzania Urban Poor Foundation, a foundation made up of members of the displace community, along with the Centre for Community Initiatives (CCI), galvanised civil society, the government, donors and the private sector to build new and affordable homes for them. They secured 30 acres of land for resettlement and collected about 24 million Tanzanian shillings (US$ 24,000) to buy the land.

“This is something that had not been done before”

“Initially it was very difficult [to set this project up],” explains Dr Tim Ndezi, a civil engineer specialising in community development, and water and sanitation infrastructure and former employee of Water Aid, who founded the non-profit organisation CCI.

Bearing this in mind, the Chamazi Community Based Housing Scheme is all the more important – and impressive.

The Chamazi Community based Housing Scheme. Credit: Caroline Anande Uliwa. “This is something that had not been done before,” says Ndezi. To convince the government to get on board, in 2009, Shack Dwellers International (SDI) organised and funded a week-long visit to India and Thailand for national and local government representatives, community members and non-government organisations, including the then-Minister of Lands and Human Development, John Chiligati.

There, they gained exposure to projects similar to the one they were working on and were able to learn from their counterparts. It was particularly important in demonstrating how to support the urban poor through housing and examined the use of block tilting (the process of acquiring a collective security of tenure which later on, individuals could be granted individuals plots within the area desigated for the collective), reducing the plot size and the use of collective housing cooperatives.

Landing on solid ground

With support from CCI, community affected by eviction secured alternative land for resettlement in Chamazi, which is located in the Temeke municipality, on the outskirts of Dar es Salaam. The Tanzania Urban Poor Federation mobilised about 24,000,000 Tanzanian shillings (US$24,000) from 300 displaced community members – around 80,000 Tanzanian shillings each, or US$80) to purchase it.

Together they secured a US$100,000 loan from SDI’s urban poor fund, US$40,000 from UK-based organization Homeless International for water and sanitation and the solar pump for the community borehole from Temeke Municipal Council. The Dar es Salaam Regional Commissioner’s office provided 300 bags of cement to support the construction.

To minimize costs, CCI and TUPF worked with the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Human Settlements Development, City Council and Temeke municipality to help in surveying of the land, land acquisition, developing master plan of Chamazi, designing of housings and providing engineering support. Most importantly, the Ministry of Lands granted special permission to reduce the plot sizes from the normal 400 square meters to 144 square meters which is the current plot sizes for Chamazi.

That is another area in which CCI provided support. They trained the community in construction skills, enabling construction materials to be fabricated on-site by community members, who also helped build the houses. Other partners contributed expertise and professional advice on surveying and acquiring land, developing building plans and designing the houses. To date, 75 new homes have been provided; among those are 38 completed houses with people living inside them and 37 houses are at different stages of construction.

Chamazi, once isolated, has developed over the past few years and the town has grown rapidly, bringing new businesses, markets and services.

The project also improved access to water and sanitation – as well as a borehole and solar powered water pump – sewage is now treated using a constructed wetland with recyclable water technology. A major win for the project was that it identified potential financial sources for the urban poor, who often cannot access finance from formal institutions.

That said, the budget for each house is around $1,000 USD and SDI’s urban poor fund is limited, making it hard to complete the housing project. Also, the lack of interest among local authority members to scale up housing cooperatives’ models and lack of funding from formal financial markets to fund informal settlements (such as banks) have constituted challenges in the implementation of the project. Achieving rapid replication of the model is a challenge, requiring stakeholders including the respective communities, NGOs, governments and financial institutions to be proactive in providing institutional and financial landscape support.

Chamazi, once isolated, has developed over the past few years and the town has grown rapidly, bringing new businesses, markets and services. The model put in place at Chamazi has been so successful that it is currently being emulated in another settlement in Dodoma, the capital of Tanzania, for the urban poor.

What lessons can we learn from these particular projects? Have you been involved in something similar that you could tell us about? Do you know someone who has? Do please join us in comments space below, and help us build and network the knowledge.

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