ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability
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Mwanza, Tanzania
Mwanza is located on the southern shore of Lake Victoria in northwest Tanzania. Covering an area of 1,324 square kilometers, it is the second largest urban center in Tanzania. The municipality is experiencing rapid economic and population growth-in 1995 the population 420,000, and by 2011 is expected to be over 1,400,000. Squatter housing poses serious social and environmental problems.

The municipality's main economic activities-fishing, agriculture and related industries-rely on natural resources. Most businesses do not have satisfactory waste disposal systems, making them the main polluters of the natural environment.
Local government authority is administratively under the prime minister's office. Mwanza operates under a committee system, comprising twenty-five elected and nominated councillors. Committees range from finance to health to urban planning.

The Tanzanian Local Government Act stipulates that basic functions of every urban authority must include maintenance of peace and order, promotion of social welfare and economic wellbeing, and planning for rural and urban development to further social and economic development.

While relations between the municipality and village citizens were sound before starting the LA 21 process, relations with urban citizens were poor due to their dissatisfaction with the lack of municipal services. Now NGOs and CBOs are recognized as being closer to the people than either national or municipal government, making these organizations major players in addressing environmental problems and implementing change.

The LA 21 MCP was launched in Mwanza in June 1995, with a public workshop. Prior to the launch the municipal director, an economist and a representative from the Lake Victoria Ecological Society, attended the MCP Regional Training Workshop in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The municipality had identified the key problems in Mwanza as squatter settlements, Lake Victoria pollution and waste management. The public workshop not only informed people of the programme and encouraged their participation, it also created working groups for these priority areas.

The MCP partnership group and working committees that were created at the launch workshop represented most sectors and organizations (economic, social, environmental and health), however petty traders and youth were not represented. The original Project Team consisted of five staff from the municipality and two members of the Lake Basin Environmental Care Organisation.

The committees worked well for a few months after the launch, until the first post-independence multi-party elections were held. This brought work on LA 21 to a halt. It was not until February/March 1996, that the MCP began a new process to launch the programme with a different stakeholder group and staff.

Significant changes in the new stakeholder group/project team included an expansion of the membership to make it more inclusive and to address gender imbalance (previous membership was mostly male). Capacity was developed through meetings, seminars and training. As time went on the Project Team members not only increased participation in the LA 21 planning process, but influenced positive environmental changes in their own communities as well.

The Project Team's function was to develop strategies for each planning stage and coordinate implementation. As a result of the experiences of the Project Team in the LA 21 planning process there has been only minimal structural change in the municipality.

Community-Based Issue Analysis
There was no separate process in Mwanza for community consultation and issue identification. Instead, this was accomplished at the beginning of the programme when the issues of squatter settlements, Lake Victoria pollution and waste management were identified as the priorities.

The three committees working on these issues collected data by conducting mini-surveys, identifying households with no access to septic tanks or sewage lines, and holding meetings in squatter settlements.

Issue Assessment
Assessment focused on the two issues of Lake Victoria pollution and squatter settlements, using the method of "networked assessment," for which Mwanza was chosen as a test case.

The training and planning phase of networked assessment was significant and involved seventy-eight people. Teams were formed to collect, compile and analyze data from targeted communities and institutions, which ultimately resulted in a summary report. Follow-up data was collected in four key areas and community-based knowledge was incorporated into the issue assessment process. Social, environmental and economic aspects of the assessed issues were included.

Given the worsening pollution created by the industrial, municipal and private sectors and the growth of squatter houses, there was a need to examine long-term projections and trends. The strongest link identified was between the issues of domestic pollution of Lake Victoria and squatter settlements with inadequate or non-existing sewage systems.

Finally, the existing legal framework was examined, and recommendations were made including one to give local communities the powers to summon and discipline lake polluters. The issue assessment and analysis process lasted from July to October 1996.

Action Planning
To create the LA 21 action plan for Mwanza, recommendations from the issue assessment and analysis phase were taken into an action-planning workshop that used MCP guiding principles for sustainable development to set goals and priorities. Forty-one participants were drawn from various sectors. Before implementing action strategies there was a need to achieve public consensus. A final action plan was refined through public debate and review by the workshop participants.

Consensus was reached on alternative housing for squatters. Direct sewage connections to Lake Victoria were being dealt with through court action. The key objectives of the action plan were to improve squatter settlements, live in good and clean environments, improve human health, enhance cooperation among NGOs and CBOs, and provide community education about the environment and sustainable development.

Although work has been promised for the near future, the action plan has yet to be incorporated into municipal government activities. The workshop challenged the municipality to create a section in its structure specifically responsible for LA 21.

Outcomes of the MCP
For the first time in Mwanza's history, the community was made aware of, and responsible for, their own environment. Additionally, two very important documents on Lake Victoria pollution and squatter housing problems were produced.

Lessons Learned from the LA 21 Planning Process
  • Local community capacity can be developed through meetings, seminars and training. As time went on the Project Team members in Mwanza not only increased their participation in the LA 21 process, but influenced positive environmental changes in their own communities as well.
  • The greatest barriers to participation are lack of education and institutional support. In Mwanza, the community consultation activities clearly indicated that a process of community education and information sharing was needed before people would become well-enough informed to actively engage in a process like LA 21. As a result of the issue assessment process, there is now a body of people educated about these issues and prepared to continue the process of analysis and planning if given some organization and direction from the outside. The importance of education cannot be understated. Mwanza's activities were successful because they exposed people to the connection between environmental issues and human influence.