Community Initiatives in Managing Informal Land Development and Environment in Mwanza City, Tanzania




One of the recognized effects of rapid global population growth in developing countries is a rapid growth of informal settlements. Residents of these settlements face a wide range of environmental and livelihood challenges that include unsanitary living conditions and inadequate income and employment opportunities. In response, communities in those settlements are implementing initiatives to reverse the negative trends affecting them. Yet, despite their significant contribution to health, livelihoods and managing urban land and environment, community initiatives in the informal settlements have received relatively limited support from central and local government due to their informal and fluid nature. As a result, many communities experience insecurity in their activities, and are unable to invest in up-scaling their functions. In Mwanza City, despite several attempts by international and local NGOs to legitimize and institutionalize community initiatives in land and environmental management, limited success has been registered over the last 10 years. This paper focuses on those initiatives in Mwanza City, examining their strengths, weaknesses and challenges involved in implementing them. It examines how local communities undertake their initiatives in land and environmental management and evaluates how local government and NGOs legitimize and institutionalizes their practices. It looks at how local communities organize, operate and implement their initiatives within the dictates of civil society realms, their contribution for sustainable urban environmental management and their outcomes. Case studies provide in-depth analysis of the community initiatives in Mwanza City and offer insights on how authorities support or stifle those initiatives. It is argued here that sustainability of community initiatives in land and environmental management is largely dependent on strong and organized communities and civil society organizations; and that legitimization and institutionalization of the practice through policy, rules and regulations enhances their success in sustainable land and environmental management. The paper concludes that community initiatives will continue to evolve, persist and adapt as the pressure for urban development confronts urban dwellers in the informal settlements at large. The findings suggest that there is an urgent need to facilitate grassroots level support systems with larger participation from NGOs, national and the local government agencies for provision of training and backstopping advice to CBOs and communities.
Key words: Community initiatives, land development, environmental management, informal settlements



How to Cite

BURRA, M. (2018). Community Initiatives in Managing Informal Land Development and Environment in Mwanza City, Tanzania. The Journal of Building and Land Development, 18(1 & 2), 1-19. Retrieved from