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Building Mtwara: Strengthening City Infrastructure to Meet the Population Demand

August 12, 2014


Construction of a new, modern dumpsite is in progress at Mangaimba hill in Mtwara.

Loy Nabeta / World Bank

  • Through the Tanzania Strategic Cities Project, Mtwara and seven other cities are planning infrastructure development to meet projected urban population increases
  • The development of a modern landfill to replace open dumpsites is one of the priority investments supported by the project
  • Several major roads have also been rehabilitated through the project

MTWARA, August 12, 2014 – Just 7km outside Mtwara’s city center, the town’s first landfill is being built atop Mangaimba Hill. Garbage trucks and tractors are the only traffic along the road, delivering nearly 31 tons of solid waste daily from different parts of the budding town. While one part of the seven ha site is being used for dumping, the rest of the area is being developed into a new, modern landfill.

Mtwara is one of seven cities implementing the Tanzania Strategic Cities Project (TSCP), with funding totalling $213 million by the World Bank Group, and $6 million in co-financing from the Danish government. The TSCP is supporting cities in the purposeful planning of infrastructure development, especially in light of projections of doubling of urban populations by 2030.  

" As Tanzania urbanizes rapidly, we are working with the government to close, as much as possible, the substantial amount of investment gap in vital urban infrastructure, such as urban roads, drainage and solid waste management, so that the returns from urbanization for overall human welfare can be maximized "

Mehmet Onur Ozlu

Senior urban specialist for the World Bank Group, and task team leader for the TSCP

While Mtwara municipality’s population currently stands at just 108,000, the discovery of enormous reserves of natural gas in the area has inspired more citizens who have trekked into the city over the past two years.

“Even before the gas economy takes off, scores of young people are arriving in the city every day from the villages,” said Rashid Mtima, the Mtwara District Executive Director. “They have been told that this is where they have to be if they are to get jobs. Luckily, we have this window of opportunity right now to prepare infrastructure that will adequately support a growing economy and population.”

The modern landfill is just one of the priority investments supported under the TSCP, to replace the open dumpsites which were the norm in cities around the country. The new landfill is not only more compact, but also more sustainable as their elaborate design – from the chain of garbage collection points to the leachate ponds where toxic fluids gather – prioritizes good environmental and hygiene standards.

“This infrastructure is quite expensive but for a big city, as we expect Mtwara to become in the near future, the cost of not being strategic in your planning can be much higher in the future,” said Deogratius Dotto, the municipality health officer.

Through the TSCP, Mtwara has also been able to improve its major roads such as Port (2.75km), Zambia (3.75km), Chuno (5.6km) Mikindani (1.9km) and Kunambi (1.9km), by paving and equipping them with pedestrian walkways, street lighting and drainage. The impact of the improvements on city life is already being felt. Along Chuno, property rates are already going up and residents are excited about the possibilities.

“Since the refurbishment, we have seen more people moving into this area,” said Rashidi Mohammed, a butcher. “My plan is to buy a fridge so that I can grow my business from the current 20kg that I stock per day. Even after I’ve run out of stock, people still come around looking for meat in the evening; I see a lot of potential.”

The operations of Olam cashew factory further along Port road are much smoother now.

“Typically, we handle up to 40,000 tons of cashew-nut and related waste products on our premises in a given year,” said Joshua Nzoka, the factory manager. “We used to suffer from delays and associated costs in transporting our product. Typically, when it rained, the goods would not arrive within the planned times. But over the last two years, this has changed.”

With the establishment of geographical information systems, authorities have been able to generate spatial data to facilitate tactical planning and decision-making, making them upbeat about the city’s prospects.

“We have 3,000 plots already demarcated and these will be allocated strategically in line with our new master plan which was drawn bearing in mind the lessons learnt from the major cities in the country,” said Mtima. “We see this city playing a key role not just in Tanzania but in this southern sub-region and our infrastructure planning will be crucial to that function.”