Transformative top-down planning in a small African city: How residents in Bagamoyo, Tanzania connect with a city in motion

Seth Schindler, Nancy Duong Nguyen, Desdery Gerase Barongo

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The New Urban Agenda commits UN member states to the implementation of national urban plans, and this recentralization of urban governance reverses nearly three decades of political decentralization and devolution. The recentralization of urban governance is evident in Tanzania, where the most recent industrial development strategy articulates a spatial plan aimed at integrating the country with regional and global markets. The lynchpin of this spatial plan is Bagamoyo, a small city located approximately 60 km north of Dar es Salaam. It is situated at the confluence of two development corridors, and as a result it was designated the most appropriate location for a greenfield port and an export processing zone. In the context of Bagamoyo’s top-down transformation, authorities situated at the city and district levels struggle to expand services and infrastructure to accommodate a growing population and expanded urban area. In this article we present original research and narrate the evolution of a city in motion; we focus on the city’s fragmented water network and hybrid solid waste management services, and we explain how residents secure access to water and reduce exposure to waste on an everyday basis. We show that residents connect with the “heterogeneous infrastructure configuration” in a range of ways, and many residents effortlessly switch from one to another in the event of a disruption (eg water shortage in the formal public system). We conclude that Bagamoyo’s infrastructure and services should be configured to foster meso-level connections, as neighbourhood water kiosks and waste collection depots would result in more equitable and efficient outcomes.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironment and Planning C: Politics and Space
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jul 2019

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Global Development Institute


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