Tanzania: Mlalakua River Restoration Project

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The Wami Ruvu Basin Water Board (WRBWB), National Environment Management Council (NEMC), Kinondoni Municipal Council (KMC), Coca-Cola Sabco, Nabaki Afrika, BORDA, SADC, Nipe Fagio


The Mlalakua River originates from the Mzinga and Kizinga Rivers, north of Tanzania’s capital, Dar es Salaam, and drains into the Indian Ocean. The land along the river is used for crop agriculture,  livestock breeding, residential, public and commercial purposes.

Openly discharged raw sewage and further liquid and solid waste dumped directly into the river by local residents, farmers, businesses and institutions has left the river highly polluted. Therefore, communities and businesses along its banks have been confronted with the related health risks. The river’s degradation also has negative impacts on the marine ecosystems along the coastline. The plastic waste contributes to litter strewn on Dar es Salaam’s beaches, with negative effects on tourism and recreation.

Many factors contribute to this situation:

  • Inadequate infrastructure and services for sustainable waste management
  • Low public sector capacity to monitor and enforce environmental regulations
  • Overlapping responsibilities of public institutions for managing waste and rivers
  • A lack of a sense of responsibility by local businesses and communities to maintain river health
  • The location of low-income settlements and industries along the river


Approach and Objectives

The Mlalakua River Restoration Project brings relevant stakeholders together to engage in the restoration of the Mlalakua River by implementing measures which enhance healthy living conditions of the riverine communities and which sustainably prevents further pollution. At the heart of the partnership is the commitment to catalyse multi-stakeholder action and to support formal institutional change within the community and within businesses and public bodies.

In 2012 a group of stakeholders from the public sector, private sector and civil society established this project by committing themselves to addressing pollution along Mlalakua River by applying a water stewardship approach.

Following the signing of a formal agreement, the partners set up a steering committee and adopted a participatory planning process which included community consultations and planning workshops with partners. This approach helped to align the objectives and interests of partners and stakeholders.



Some of the partnership activities undertaken include physical river clean-ups, the establishment of sustainable solid waste and wastewater management systems, e.g. by introducing private waste collectors and setting up new recycling centres and wastewater treatment plants. This includes creating and building the capacity of service providers and raising awareness amongst local leaders and communities on issues such as health impacts, possible solutions for household sanitation and law enforcement measures. The partnership also addresses industrial and institutional wastewater management and facilitates the implementation of environmental regulations and best practices of industrial waste management along the river. These projects are used to encourage other businesses to meet regulations.
Some highlights of activities of the Mlalakua River Restoration Project include:

  • River clean-up and waste removal: A larger Mlalakua River clean-up event with city-wide community engagement and participation took place in May 2014. Professional clean-up by the municipality is ongoing and the communities are actively involved in regular clean-up events.
  • Community solid waste management: Service providers have been trained and work is ongoing with positive results.
  • Community wastewater management: Wastewater and sludge management plans are being developed. Awareness campaigns on waste management and improved sanitation have taken place.

An agreement has been reached between the public sector stakeholders on how to enforce environmental protection regulations. Guidelines for the local enforcement of environmental law are being developed. This is increasing the understanding of environmental laws, regulations and enforcement procedures by community leaders and industries along the river.


Challenges and Outlook

Aligning varying interests, capacities and engaging local communities posed a challenge to the Mlalakua River Restoration Project. Involving the private sector has been challenging, given that, as yet, there is no obvious business case for commercial participation.

However, stakeholders’ efforts to build trust and to harmonise varying interests are bearing fruit. Strides are being made towards developing a common understanding of issues relevant to the partnership. Discussions on law-enforcement, including the roles of partners and policies, are promising.

Implementation activities are showing positive and concrete results. The project is being phased out and its documented results will be used to guide restoration projects of a similar nature.


Country Set-up

In Tanzania, IWaSP is anchored in the bilateral Supporting Water Sector Development in Tanzania (SWSD) programme, a joint programme of the German and Tanzanian governments, implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH.

IWaSP partners Tanzania include the Ministry of Water and Irrigation, the National Environment Management Council (NEMC), the Dialogue Forum on Climate Change Adaptation, the Pangani Basin Water Board, the Wami Ruvu Basin Water Board (WRBWB), the Ruvuma Basin Water Board, the Kinondoni Municipal Council (KMC).

IWaSP is an international water security programme which combines global best practices in water stewardship with local know-how. Currently active in seven countries, the six-year programme (2013-2018) facilitates partnerships between the public sector, the private sector and civil society to address shared water risks, while improving stakeholders’ use and management of water and building their capacity to develop their own solutions. GIZ manages IWaSP on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the UK Department for International Development (DfID).


Contact Information

Fridtjof Behnsen
IWaSP country coordinator in Tanzania