Traditional programs would have employed costly international expertise to fill this data gap. Advocating instead for the adoption of affordable and local solutions to flooding in Dar es Salaam, the World Bank's Urban Resilience team is using citizen science for the task. A team of 16 young professionals and students leads the initiative, adopting open web applications and simple measurement tools for the physical collection of samples. These samples have been gathered from 643 strategic points across the city, covering an area of over 2,752km².
'The process demands that we test soils from different areas around Dar es Salaam in order to determine the different soil profiles, which will ultimately help us understand how water will affect each soil type,' said Sia Salonga, one of the young samplers engaged in the project.
'These profiles show us which areas are most susceptible to erosion, which are experiencing the most erosion, and how this influences flooding and river dynamics,' added Natty.
After just two months of sampling, the team has recorded over 600 different soil types across the city-providing data that has been made open and free for public use. The resulting soil map will inform a comprehensive sedimentation study of Dar es Salaam, and the actions that need to be taken regarding urban development around the Msimbazi River.
'We can see where some tree planting will be needed, maybe we need to add in some grassy areas, or maybe we need to stop some urban development because certain areas are really susceptible to high erosion rates. These are some of the things we can consider with this data,' said Natty.
As use cases emerge, this project aims to prove that critical disaster risk data collection does not have to be outsourced-that local knowledge and tools can support successful and sustainable solutions, and the capacities of young, aspiring practitioners can be nurtured in the process.
'Flooding is a reality for us all in Tanzania,' said Salonga. - 'I'm very grateful for the opportunity to participate in an initiative that will help leaders make informed decisions for our communities.'