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News — 26 February, 2018

Newly-revealed Shina boundaries offer unprecedented hyperlocal data for decisionmakers

Recent population figures estimate Dar es Salaam’s population to be over 5 million, with an annual population growth of 5.7%. Despite the rapid growth of the city, almost 70% of the city is comprised of informal unplanned settlements - a figure that is predicted to grow dramatically as the city expands.

Recent population figures estimate Dar es Salaam’s population to be over 5 million, with an annual population growth of 5.7%. Despite the rapid growth of the city, almost 70% of the city is comprised of informal unplanned settlements  - a figure that is predicted to grow dramatically as the city expands.

Many of these informal settlements remain unmapped , with limited knowledge on the number of inhabitants of an areas, building usage, access to health facilities etc. This makes it hard for health workers, emergency responders and planners to make informed decisions about where to prioritize investments, advocacy and outreach. This rapid growth also means that, in Makangarawe Ward, one of the most heavily urbanized areas of Tanzania,  local leaders face a common challenge every day: How can they provide consistent management and support to their community of over 10,000 inhabitants?

Dar es Salaam is divided into five municipalities, 92 wards and approximately 450 subwards (a subward is also known as a “mtaa” in Swahili). Through community mapping in November 2017, the HOT team uncovered further divisions within a mtaa known as “shina” (which translates roughly to “branches” in English). These shina are the most hyperlocal decision making structures in urban Tanzania. Shinas are sometimes also referred to as a “ten-cell unit”, since originally these areas were meant to cover ten households. Now, due to population growth, a shina tends to contain between 30 and 200 households. Each shina is administered by a ‘mjumbe’, a community-appointed (plural ‘wajumbe’ in Swahili) .

Wajumbe are the main, trusted point of contact for local households over issues such as public services, resource allocation and community pain points. They’re chosen by their community to act as their representative to the government and to relay government decisions and initiatives back to the community (such as waste collection processes).

Wajumbe are also responsible for writing letters confirming inhabitants’ proof of residence, which is needed for community members to open bank accounts and gain travel documents. In some cases, health clinics ask patients to list their Mjumbe when registering. Without consistent records of Wajumbe and Shina administrative boundaries, these services can be difficult to access for many people.

In Makangarawe, mappers asked households to name their Mjumbe. Community members are trained by the HOT mapping team in open source data collection tools (OpenDataKit and OpenMapKit) and help with the data collection process. The survey data they collect concentrates on capturing the number of members of a household, as well as the age and gender of inhabitants and the Mjumbe leader responsible for that house. After making sure that community members are equipped with the data collection skills needed, field work commences. A community member is provided with scratch cards (to buy internet packages) and a power bank, and are accompanied by Wajumbe leaders to establish trust with inhabitants and to cross-check areas of jurisdiction.