The Watumishi Housing Company’s model estate harnesses clean energy technologies to improve lives and reduce the carbon footprint.
By Kizito Makoye
MABWEPANDE | Tanzania (IDN) – As a warm breeze blows from the Indian Ocean, two men in dazzling outfits show up on the balcony of a home with flower-filled pots to convey a message to their community members about the future plans of their green village.
“In order to achieve our goals of establishing a successful green village, it is important to come together and exchange our ideas,” says Reeves Ngalemwa, the chairman of the Mabwepande green village in Tanzania’s largest commercial city.
Dressed in a dazzling batik shirt with African flag meticulously knitted in shiny red- yellow and green embroidery, his bespectacled deputy chairman Josephat Shigela echoes the message.
“We are trying to create a tradition of holding family meetings to discuss various issues concerning our green village, to assess what we have done, and look at our future plans and find solutions to the challenges we may be facing,” he says.
With bracing wit, the two leaders were captured in a short video recorded after the family day event in which community residents were huddled under a makeshift tent to celebrate their achievements.
“We hope to change this area to become a green village that uses clean energy and potentially state-of-the art technologies to improve the lives of our community,” says Ngalemwa.
Amidst soulful melodies of Bongo Flava music and the lyrical styles of African Rhumba, Ngalemwa joins other leaders to jointly hold a knife to cut the top tier of a creamy cake – to signify unity, longevity and continuity of the sustainable and environmentally friendly community.
The memorable moment, captured by skilled videographer Alpha Kigala, shows the enduring spirit of a community with a mission to transform the future of living in the bustling city.
Conceived and designed by Watumishi Housing Company (WHC) – a government real estate agency with the vision of providing decent accommodation in line with the country’s 2025 development vision, the Mabwepande green village with its cluster of 65 housing units is about to break ground for sustainability.
Watumishi Housing Company is known for its solid track record of designing and building housing estates to cope with the greatest environmental challenges and reduce the ecological footprint in cities.
As the world’s population increases, the number of people living in cities globally is expected to rise from the current 55 percent to a whopping 68 percent by 2050, according the United Nations.
With a population of six million, the smoke-belching city of Dar es Salaam – Africa’s fifth largest, which produces 40 percent of the country’s GDP – is at the heart of an environmental storm.
The majority of its inhabitants live in informal settlements like Tandale, a vast, labyrinthine neighbourhood of flimsily-built concrete houses, that are susceptible to flooding.
Looking at the Mabwepande green village from the vantage point, it offers a rare glimpse of a calm neighbourhood situated in a lush natural landscape swamped with green vistas and a murky stream locals use for watering vegetables.
The Mabwepande green village initiative is in line with Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 11, which calls for making cities and human settlements inclusive, to ensure effective use of resources for making production patterns safe, resilient and sustainable, and also curb the worsening impacts of climate change.
According to Ngalemwa, the envisaged projects estimated to cost some 185,000 dollars entail self-sufficient clean energy including solar and biogas, as well as managing wastewater in a closed-loop system that also captures waste to be recycled for power and fertiliser.
As one of Africa’s fastest-growing cities, Dar es Salaam is highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, including flooding, sea-level rise, coastal erosion, water scarcity and insect-borne diseases.
Heavy rains often cause floods that destroy infrastructures and force residents in low-lying areas from their homes.
While emerging opulent skyscrapers that offer unparalleled panoramas are becoming symbols of the city’s changing face, they also highlight the yawning economic divide of city dwellers.
While urbanisation is a key driver of economic development, analysts sees it as dysfunctional due to insufficient infrastructure, lack of jobs and haphazardly built slums.
To cope with environmental challenges, the Mabwepande green village plans to use the urban nexus approach to exploit water and energy resources efficiently and in an integrated manner.
“We will have a concrete block with tanks in which rainwater will perpetually be flowing and stored,” says Ngalemwa.
The village is in the process of seeking support from local and international partners such as the German Corporation for International Cooperation (GIZ) and ICLEI – a global network of more than 1,750 local and regional governments committed to sustainable urban development – to harness sustainable technologies for creating environmentally-friendly features including a large solar farm and an on-site water reservoir that allows residents to collect and reuse rainwater from the rooftops.
The green village aims to achieve the status of a high quality, sustainable estate with energy saving features, rainwater harvesting infrastructure with a reservoir tank with the capacity to store 100,000 litres and solar shading canopies which support biodiversity.
In an interview with IDN, Ngalemwa said that as a green village the community is keen to use participatory approaches to holistically integrate ecological, economic, social and cultural dimensions of sustainability to preserve social and natural environments.
Under the Mabwepande Eco-residence association, the villagers have agreed to illuminate their streets and open spaces using a solar-powered lighting system, as well as enhance security lights at individual houses.
According to Ngalemwa, the planned biogas digester will have the capacity to recycle sewage slurry and organic wastes to produce cooking gas.
“We are also planning to build a perimeter wall and procure modern communication equipment for our guards to enhance security,” he told IDN.
The association is also planning to build sports facilities and an entertainment hub with playgrounds for children, a mini bar and business complex with supermarkets and a tree planting initiative.
“We are deeply committed to improving our residences and transforming them to become a green village. Individual families have already shown the example of planting trees and gardening around their residences.” [IDN-InDepthNews – 22 December 2020]
Photo: A view of the Mabwepande Green Village. Credit: Kizito Makoye.
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