A Browning process : The case of Dar es Salaam city

Abstract: The study is about how green spaces and structures of Dar es Salaam city, quantitatively and qualitatively, are browning out. It also tries to explore the different reasons behind the browning tendency, and what it means to the function of the city and to the daily form of life of the inhabitants. Finally there is a discussion about how to counteract the tendency by involving the inhabitants in planning procedures following the communicative approach to planning. The main investigations have been a) time series mapping of the browning process at city, settlement, block and plot levels; and b) interviews with inhabitants individually and as groups in two settlements. The result is that the quantity of green spaces and structures is decreasing fast in all levels. It is also found that, concerning the browning tendency, the development in formal and informal areas is the same. The quality of the remaining green spaces and structures is also decaying. Among other things, imported plant species, in all levels, replace the indigenous ones. They often cause disturbance and extinctions to local flora and fauna. All in all, the browning tendency is a threat to the ecological functioning of the green as a system, infrastructural and health aspects on the city. It is also a threat to typical daily lifestyles in the city. Throughout, low-density with low-rise detached houses characterize the city, which expands continuously both outward and inward. So it is a sprawled city. In most of the remaining green spaces of this sprawled structure vegetables and other food plants are grown for the benefit of the urban poor, now threatened. The inhabitants in the studied blocks seem to take responsibility of supplying, using and caring their green plants and spaces. They also often co-operate in solving ad-hoc environmental problems in their living environments. But in their plots and around them they nevertheless keep on building more and more on a limited plot space, mostly for economic reasons. Another room is more worth economically than some vegetables or the shade of a tree. Finally it seems that local community, if well empowered, have potentials in managing their own living environment. The study concludes that in a city whose largest proportion of population is poor and unemployed, urban sprawl could offer, at the moment, an appropriate form. This conclusion challenges how the concept of the sustainable city has been elaborated and evolved in western countries.