Dar es Salaam

To understand the transformational benefits in Dar es Salaam as a result of DARAJA, the project has deep-dived into the experiences of a few distinct stakeholders – Community leader, Municipal disaster coordinator and TMA.

Increased Access

For Husna Shechonge, a community leader from Dar es Salaam who has been involved with DARAJA right from the start to finish, it has been a transformative experience. Husna says that the weather information is now easily accessible as it’s sent via WhatsApp group messages and SMSs apart from TV and Radio. She particularly stresses that SMS has the added benefit of being able to review the information at any time (after it’s been received) she wants, in contrast to TV and Radio where she cannot rewind or ask them to repeat it at her convenience.

Pendo Alfred, the Kinondoni Municipal Disaster Coordinator, also prefers to access it through WhatsApp. The formal Government communication channel is through official letters which are delivered by post – this causes delay in communication, especially with regards to high-impact weather events. In contrast, accessing it through WhatsApp has been easier and quicker.

Increased Use

Community leader, Husna has typically used the five-days rolling forecast and occasionally the seasonal outlook for the rainy season to plan agricultural activities on the outskirts of Dar es Salaam – for example, which crop to cultivate based on its water requirements and the rainfall outlook. Husna recalls a specific instance during the project period where she took an action based on the forecast:

"This season I wanted to grow maize but I noted that the predicted rain was going to be average or below average. I had to switch to something else which does not require heavy rain."

Husna Shechonge, Community Leader

As Husna found value in these forecasts, she began sharing it with some of her fellow community members via WhatsApp, SMS and face-to-face interactions. In time, others found it to be very useful and more people from other settlements have been asking for this information.

Municipal Disaster Coordinator, Pendo uses this information in his work to inform the local communities and leaders on the types of actions to take before, during and after the upcoming weather events. Apart from using this information in his communications with the community, Pendo also shares this information with his colleagues, family and friends, generally via WhatsApp.

“There is additional advice [provided] on actions to take. This includes cleaning the drainage, moving out of the flood prone areas and others are more location related especially in those areas known to be hotspots for flooding.”

Pendo Alfred, Kinondoni Municipal Disaster Coordinator

Increased Demand for WCIS

Although the information on impact of rain has become easy to understand, Husna and Pendo suggest that the impact of extreme heat needs more attention. Pendo also suggests that feedback from TMA as well as stakeholders should be improved, particularly during or after a high-impact weather event.

“However the impact of extreme heat needs to be communicated more because [it’s] not the kind of weather people are taking seriously because of limited options for actions, but limited knowledge as well on extreme heat and what people are supposed to do.”

Husna Shechonge, Community Leader
TMA has noted this demand for information on temperature (extreme heat). In addition to this, one of the key feedback points TMA has received through DARAJA is that the language used in their forecasts is not easy to understand. To improve this, TMA has been working with BAKITA, Swahili Council of Tanzania, to simplify the language into a more easily understood Swahili language. This work is ongoing and TMA says that with time the public will see some changes in the language used.

“Since last year there has been a discussion with BAKITA on improving the technical language used in forecast to put it in simple Swahili words. This is one of the actions we are working on from a user’s feedback. This is an ongoing activity but many technical words have been worked on already.”


Improved Relationship with TMA

On the relationship between the community and TMA, Husna says that there is a visible change. She indicates that there is higher trust in the information from TMA and that the public service of meteorology has become more accessible to the community. Husna attributes a lot of these positive changes to DARAJA.

“We had never interacted with TMA before. I did not have interest in weather information until the project was introduced and we started to see how important the information on weather is. The project has very much contributed a lot to the impact we are seeing now of people demanding information and taking actions.”

Husna Shechonge, Community Leader

On the relationship between local Government institutions and TMA, Pendo says that now there is direct interaction with TMA. He suggests that this coordination could be improved to a level where the two institutions are planning interventions together.

“Yes there is a change in the relationship between the community and TMA because of the awareness created and the trust built through provision of accurate information.”

Pendo Alfred, Kinondoni Municipal Disaster Coordinator

TMA agrees with Municipal Disaster Coordinator, Pendo, that the interaction between the two institutions has increased through DARAJA.

“The relationship between these two parties has been there always. But what DARAJA has provided is a platform to interact more and for Municipal department officials to understand more on how TMA works and more knowledge on WCI.”