Project Summary

Words by: Femke Gubbels & Martha Molfetas

Photographs by: Femke Gubbels & Daniela Schofield, edited by: Martha Molfetas

November 2016


Femke Gubbles, a Field Researcher for Impact Human, spent six weeks in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. She was there to do her graduate field research this August through September, she would come back with much more than expected. During her time in Dar, she spoke with people living in the city and impacted by climate change – from informal food vendors, to mothers and grandparents. Their candid perspectives give a human face to climate impacts, while shedding light on the reality of living on the front-lines of climate change.

Today in Tanzania, the impacts of climate change are pronounced and evident all year round. Even the smallest amount of rain causes storm drains to buckle. It is apparent, after only a short introduction to Dar, that different areas of the city are dealing with climate impacts in different ways. Those in more affluent areas have the means to construct sea walls and infrastructure to protect their homes. In poorer areas like the floodplains, storm drains barely exist and waterways are filled with refuse from trash and debris. Some floodplain residents have found alternative ways to protect their homes and families, building protective piles of used tires and debris in an effort to prevent flooding.

In an attempt to adapt to climate change, the Dar es Salaam City Council has spent years trying to convince residents of the floodplains to voluntarily relocate, even threatening eviction. Most are financially unable to relocate, as their livelihoods are closely tied to the area. Even if families are willing to relocate, the cost of public transport is often too expensive, affording only those with means the opportunity to relocate. For years, the City's warnings of evictions and displacement were seen as empty threats - until December 2015. After painting large red ‘X’s on dwellings, the Dar es Salaam City Council demolished hundreds of floodplain homes without providing adequate compensation or substitution. In some cases the City Council has provided land elsewhere for people to rebuild, but that land is usually further away from jobs and economic opportunities. By January 2016, 700 homes had been destroyed, with a further 8,000 planned to be demolished. Two floodplain areas of Dar es Salaam were specifically focused on for this Project, Jangwani and Mchikichini.

Real people are affected by climate change, and by inhumane policies of displacement. The combination of poor infrastructure, forced displacement, rising sea levels, and flooding have all culminated in the creation of new climate internally displaced people (IDPs) in Dar es Salaam. Globally, 22.5 million people have been displaced by climate impacts since 2009.


Our Interviews

Our interviewees come from different walks of life, and offer us a unique opportunity to share their story. Throughout the transcripts provided here, we have anonymized our interviewees, using pseudonyms to protect them from any harm or repercussions on them or their families. We have protected our interviewees identities, no real names, occupations, or other details are given. Normally, we would profile our interviewees and separate our project by ‘People’ and ‘Places Affected’. For this project, we have separated our photos into ‘Places Affected’ and ‘Daily Life in Dar’. All interview quotes can be found in the ‘Places Affected’ photos, with the ‘Daily Life in Dar’ photos representing exactly that – daily life.


Our Interviewees {Anonymized}

Emmanuel is a local politician responsible for ten streets. Now in his 60's, he has lived in the area for over 30 years. His house has a pile of debris in front of it to protect it against flooding. Emmanuel and his wife live with their six children, which he sustains by fixing cars. When asked what he thinks is causing the flooding, he points to faulty infrastructure and the fact that more people are moving to the area. Emmanuel told us, the impact of floods is worse now because there are more houses, which prevents rainwater from lowering.

Salim is a divorced handyman and homeowner. He has been in the floodplains since 1980's and recalls heavy floods over the years. He explains how the area is becoming less safe due to worsening floods and increased theft during flood incidents. Thieves risk their lives to raid houses for what few belongings are left. To protect his home Salim has piled debris in front of it. Except for the floods and accompanied theft, he considers the area safe and is keen to stay due to the central location and community. He says the future is uncertain because of a year-old court case. The case will decide whether houses will be bulldozed, but Salim says the process is not transparent and the information they receive is often based on gossip.

Seli is a mother of two and has lived in the floodplains most of her life. She is a tenant and shares the house with 13 others. The house is two meters away from a clogged and ineffective canal. The front step of the houses has been provisionally lifted to prevent the first wave of water from inundating her home when it floods. Sadly, this does not suffice if it rains for more than a few hours. Seli explains how people in the community have tried to clean canals to improve drainage, but it has been difficult to improve drainage without government support. As the nearby river gets more polluted with debris, it becomes shallower, making it flood quicker when it rains. The only government intervention she knows of are attempts to evict homes in the floodplains. At the time of our interview, Seli's home was marked with a bright red spray-painted 'X'.

Farida and Habiba are sisters living under the same roof, both are seniors. They used to sell home cooked snacks at the market, but as they are getting older, it's become too physically demanding. They both express their desire to leave the floodplains, but they do not have the financial means to relocate elsewhere.


The places {and people} affected

Additional text in captions can be seen by hovering your mouse over the text box and scrolling. Most photos in 'The Places {And People} Affected' were taken by Femke Gubbels. Photos taken by Daniela Schofield have 'By: DS' in the description.


daily life in Dar

Additional text in captions can be seen by hovering your mouse over the text box and scrolling. Most photos in 'Daily Life in Dar' were taken by Femke Gubbels. Photos taken by Daniela Schofield have 'By: DS' in the description.