Facilitating collective action at the Mlalakua River in Tanzania

Due to a number of challenging factors, such as the lack of adequate service providers to collect garbage from residents, negligence on the part of residents and poor law enforcement, Mlalakua River has been the receptacle of various liquid and solid waste materials  including household garbage, hospital waste, and raw sewage. However, stakeholders from the public and private sectors and civil society organizations are determined to change the future of the river, and have established a Water Stewardship Project (Uwakilimaji) in an effort that has made bold steps towards bringing hope for better days for the river. The project is being steered by GIZ in partnership with nine organisations under the International Water Stewardship Programme (IWaSP).

The vision for the river is clear: to restore the Mlalakua River to a healthy status and prevent further pollution on a sustained basis.
The organisations participating in the project have therefore identified several activities which are hoped will bring the desired sustainable change. They are divided into five components: community solid waste management, community waste water management, river clean–up waste removal, industrial and institutional waste water management and physical river restoration.

These organisations include the Wami Ruvu Basin Board(WRBWB) — the board responsible for managing all rivers in Dar es Salaam, the National Environment Management Council (NEMC) — the government agency responsible for ensuring compliance with environmental laws, the Kinondoni Municipal council(KMC) — the local municipal authority under whose jurisdiction the river falls, Nipe Fagio — a civil society organisation campaigning for awareness on environmental issues, Nabaki Afrika — a local building material supply company in the target areas, Coca-Cola Kwanza — a subsidiary of Coca-Cola Sabco operating in Tanzania, The Coca-Cola Foundation — the African community-based foundation addressing water issues, Bremen Overseas Research and Development Association (BORDA) — a German NGO specializing in sanitation and waste management, and the German Development Cooperation Agency (GIZ).

In May 2014, the project was officially launched with a colorful event that involved all the organisations and included speeches and clean-up activities, while local artists performed songs calling for people to change how they handled and disposed of waste.

The responsibilities for achieving this have been distributed amongst the participating institutions and in the last years, some progress has been made. This includes a partial clean-up of the river, community awareness and behavior change sensitization, and capacity building for communities on waste water management. The project has also provided support to waste management service providers.