Sustainable Development Success Stories

Improving Living Conditions and Expanding Employment Opportunities in Urban Low-Income Communities

Location  Dar-es-Salaam, United Republic of Tanzania.
Responsible Organisation International Labour Organization (ILO). Associated agencies:UN Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat), UN Volunteers (UNV). Funding was provided by UNDP, Ford Foundation, European Union and community contributions in cash and kind.

Hanna Nassif is a low-income settlement in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, with about 20,000 inhabitants. Before the project started, the settlement had no clearly defined roads or storm water drainage channels. During the rainy season the area experienced a lot of flooding. Pools of water mixed with overspill from pit latrines, and solid waste was littered all over the settlement. Standing contaminated water would remain in the settlement for long periods. Malaria was the most common disease, and most people developed foot fungus due to walking in contaminated water.

During a time when 72 houses had lost their roofs in Hanna Nassif after heavy rains in May 1991, the ILO visited that area to explore the possibility of undertaking a pilot project on labour intensive and community based upgrading of an urban area in order to generate employment and improve living conditions. The project started in March 1994 and ended in August 1996.

Issues Addressed Capacity building.
Results Achieved
  • A committed Community Development Committee (CDC) was formed and registered, and is now fully responsible for the project, including construction and maintenance of the infrastructure.

  • Capacity building of the CDC and the feeling of ownership over the project due to community participation (from identification of priority needs to implementation and maintenance).

  • Capacity building of the Dar es Salaam City Council (DCC) on how to respond to community-based initiatives: the city engineers and town planners were trained by participating in the project activities.

  • About 600 metres of functioning and maintainable storm water drains, 1 km of road with 1.5 km of side drains and 600 metres of footpaths were constructed at a technically satisfactory level.

  • A sustainable community-based maintenance system for drains and roads was set up and is still operative. Recurrent community funding is available for maintenance through a road toll system.

  • Employment of 24,430 work-days were created, being 4,430 above the target figure. Of the total work-days created, 65% comprised man-days, and 35% women-days.

  • Established linkages between the City Council and CDC: the CDC now knows how to ask the DCC for assistance.

  • Training of selected people from the CDC, the Hanna Nassif community and the DCC was successfully carried out.

  • The strategy of the Hanna Nassif project has been replicated in two other unplanned settlements in Dar es Salaam under the Community Infrastructure Project. Additionally, many organisations have shown their interest in further replicating the approach.

Lessons Learned
  • An enabling strategy contributes to creating a constructive partnership between local governments and communities in addressing urban unemployment and poverty. Under this strategy, local communities change their role from being "beneficiaries" to being "actors" in the development process, thus creating a sense of ownership, while local governments change from regulators and implementers to facilitators. A community-based organisation, if closely linked with and technically supported by local governments, can manage and supervise locally based small labour-intensive construction and maintenance activities.

  • Continuous animation of communities is necessary to obtain successful community participation. Though it is time consuming, it ensures sustainability of a project. Community contributions for improving and maintaining their priority infrastructure should be agreed with the CBOs from the outset of a project, in order to establish a sense of ownership and ensure sustainability.

  • The key element in a labour-intensive infrastructure investment policy concerns the encouragement of local community participation in the execution of relatively small-scale local infrastructure projects. This can best be done through community construction contracts, the concept of which opens up a wide spectrum of local works to local cooperative efforts, with benefits accruing directly to the community.

  • Labour-based technology is cost-effective and of a technically acceptable level, particularly in constructing and maintaining public infrastructure in low-income settlements.

  • Inter-agency and multi-donor sponsored projects provide opportunities for integrated approaches to tackle problems such as poverty by full use of each organization’s comparative advantages, knowledge and experience. It also enhances the possibility of replication and impact. However, inter-agency cooperation carries a risk of competition and therefore care should be taken to delimit the technical inputs of each cooperating agency.

  • The external Evaluation Team summarised the lessons learned as: "The Hanna Nassif urban upgrading project is a brave new initiative on the part of the City Administration, Donors and the Community. It is a pilot program, the experience of which is to be used for expanding the programme to other unplanned settlements in the City. The concept empowers communities to create their own infrastructure services. One of the most important lessons learnt was that the development of a sense of community ownership in a new urban ad-hoc settlement is a complex social and economic problem, which requires special skill and adequate time to deal with. The project succeeded well to establish a functioning Community Development Association for identifying and constructing their own priority infrastructure services."


Mr. Liu Jinchang,
ILO Development Policies Department
4, Route des Morillons, CH-1211,
Geneva 22, Switzerland
Email: liuj@ilo.org

Ms. Wilma van Esch,
Nairobi Junction of Galana and Lenana Roads,
P.O. Box 60598 Nairobi, Kenya
Tel: 254-2-57055 / 572580
Email: iloasist@arcc.or.ke