RECENTLY, the Tanzania Meteorological Agency (TMA) issued an alert on heavy rains that are expected to pound most parts of the country, Dar es Salaam included.
With such warning, it was my hope that Tanzanians will witness municipal councils taking measures to prepare their cities from flooding disasters, which has been the case for so many years.
Unfortunately, it is in the nature of most Tanzanians to wait until the last minute to take any action and this can be attested by exercises which are announced to take place on certain dates.
You find most people relaxed and not in any particular hurry to complete the exercise, until it is announced that there are only a few days to the deadline…then you will see a massive number of people who were resting on their laurels trying to beat the deadline.
Late last week Dar es Salaam received some serious amounts of rain and judging by the floods that hit most parts of the city, it is obvious that when the rainfalls predicted by the TMA come falling, there will be a grim picture which will be painted.
Dar es Salaam city is topographically made up of lowlands that lie below the sea level; this means that this topographic feature makes it very vulnerable to floods and coastal erosion.
The high vulnerability is largely attributed to poor planning, poverty and poor infrastructure which are exacerbated by poor infiltration and un-functioning storm water drainage systems.
In the absence of effective adaptation measures, flood risks are exacerbated. Reports suggest this is particularly the case in developing countries; however, the devastation brought by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 suggests that even the most developed nations, Tanzania included, must take further steps to adequately protect against natural disasters.
Experts have for years recommended that disaster risk reduction must be successfully incorporated into broader sustainable development goals to foster more resilient communities.
Currently, Tanzania’s disaster management activities are centrally coordinated by the Disaster Management Department (DMD) under the Prime Minister’s office. A study by the U.N. Development Programme three years ago, however, revealed widespread weaknesses in disaster prevention and management strategies.
Those included a failure to earmark land where flood waters could be diverted, or introduce technological solutions to avert flooding, such as building flood levees.