XVI. Ramani Huria

Interaction type Public → Government → Public
Trigger Event The fastest growing city and Tanzania with poor urbanization planning located in a natural disaster (floods) area
Domain Community Mapping
Organisation(s) World Bank
Actors World Bank, Red Cross, University of Dar es Salaam, Ardhi University, Buni Innovation Hub, Tanzania Data Lab
Data sets in use Infrastructure data contributed to OpenStreetMap
Process Through the project university students are trained to provide the necessary data for resilience and disaster reduction. The content generated is freely available and is used in software that produces realistic natural hazard impact scenarios so to devise better planning against natural hazards.
Feedback better planning, preparedness and response for disaster
Goal Collect data and generate and understanding of flood prone areas for flood resilience across Dar es Salaam.
Side effects Scale out of the project to other areas, Bukoba, Mozambique, and Zanzibar
Contact Point Mark [dot] iliffe [at] nottingham [dot] ac [dot] uk


Dar es Salaam is Africa’s fastest growing city and Tanzania’s primary city with a population of around 5.5 million and is projected to be a megacity by 2030. City’s urbanization process is largely unplanned, and more than half of city residents live in some form of informal settlements while the poorest citizens in these areas not only have least access to basic services, but are also the most exposed to natural hazards. The pace of urbanisation challenges traditional methods of planning and public service provision. Every year during the rainy season, Dar suffers from devastating floods that wipe out roads, take out houses, and result in many deaths and millions of dollars worth of damages. The damage these floods cause could be prevented with adequate planning based in up-to-date geographic information. Ramani Huria is a community-based mapping project that began in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, by training university students and local community members to create highly accurate maps of the most flood-prone areas of the city. By empowering communities to digitise their spaces through community mapping, it supports the development of community awareness and demonstrates how to leverage citizen participation for hyperlocal data collection. This citizen participation is focused on vulnerable and flood prone areas – presenting an opportunity to empower Ward Officers and community leaders to identify and prioritise community resilience and action plans against flooding. Dar Ramani Huria is supported by the World Bank’s Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery.

In the course of the project a number of activities around geographic information take place so to support the data contribution: i) Mapping: Ramani Huria trains university students and local community members to create highly accurate maps of their city using a wide variety of methods for data collection, ii) Digitizing: to generate content from data collected by community mappers, the project collaborates with OpenStreetMap, iii) Modelling Risk: by using InaSAFE, a free software that produces realistic natural hazard impact scenarios, contributed data helps to devise better planning, preparedness and response for disaster iv) Sharing: all data collected by the Ramani is free and accessible for anyone to use on OpenStreetMap and through the project’s website.
In this context, the project empowers local community members to take measures that make their communities more resilient to flooding. In Dar es Salaam, this is facilitated by the Tanzanian Red Cross Society in 10 neighbourhoods with the help of volunteers in flood response and disaster resilience through simulations and training, in fact, establishing 10 disaster prevention teams. Ramani Huria has trained 450 mappers and 100 members to be volunteer disaster resilience advisors, based in communities. These advocate for positive approaches to solid waste management, cleaning efforts, and other community driven approaches that can be taken within their community. In data terms, at the time of writing (June 2017), Ramani Huria has enabled the collection of over 750,000 building footprints and it has helped to map 3396 km of roads, 1254 km of waterways and 29 wards. This effort is estimated to have affected about 2 million citizens.

By helping communities to map residential areas, roads, streams, floodplains, and other relevant features, the project will bring disaster prevention and response to areas that were previously unmapped. The project will also bring awareness of the need for flood prevention and risk reduction to the local level, while teaching participants valuable computer and mapping skills that they can put to use elsewhere. When the maps are finished, they will be combined with other data in InaSAFE, a free software that enables users to run realistic natural disaster scenarios for better planning and response.  As an added benefit, these maps will be publicly available online, available for download on the project’s website, and also delivered in printed form to the local governing bodies of each ward. Moreover, Ramani Huria has introduced and validated new approaches to understanding and managing risk locally in Dar es Salaam and across the region through citizen based participatory approaches. This paradigm has started to spread to other cities such as Stone Town (Zanzibar), Bukoba (Kagera Region – post 2016 Earthquake), and Matola (Mozambique), who have adopted the participatory mapping methods pioneered by Ramani Huria.

However, data coverage was not as full as initially required. Reasons for this include poor quality assurance and control coupled with the complexity of tools (and potentially language challenges with non-native English speakers). Further iterations of Ramani Huria will include research components to understand and mitigate these challenges.

There are two key contribution factors to the success of Ramani Huria. The first is how the project has been administered and pushed for by stakeholders within the local government. The second being the nature of the open platforms and tools used by Ramani Huria. Firstly, the roots of this project lie in 2011, as a World Bank project, this has slowly shifted over towards a collaborative governance model, with all stakeholders currently in the process of forming committees to execute and administer the project. This has shifted the dynamic away from a World Bank driven project, towards a community driven one.  The impact of this has engendered a deeper collaborative mentality between outsiders (WB, Red Cross), Government, Universities, and Community Members, as all feel that this is their project, with the capacity and ability to shape and make decisions in the project. This negates issues of acceptance and supports a wider re-use of the data. Secondly, the nature of the open platforms and tools (OSM, InaSafe, QGIS etc) allows for benefits to be achieved at scale and shared throughout a global community. Improvements to software made in Indonesia can be applied in Tanzania and vice-versa (and have been). This allows for more intelligent use of resources (person time and money) in a resources constrained environment.

Main Lessons:

  • The development of a project as part of a bigger effort and support by strong institutions play a major role in its success.
  • Thorough project management that is oriented to capacity building facilitates the sustainability of the project as it can pass from the initiator’s hands to those of the local communities.
  • The use of open source software frees projects from unnecessary costs that could hamper its development through the diffusion in local communities.
  • Interconnection among similar projects can help best practices and effective methodologies to easily spread and thus propel further development of the efforts.