Symposium on Urban Water Governance, Dar Es Salaam
Principal Investigator:

Dr Neil Munro, University of Glasgow


University of Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania; Water Witness International, Scotland;  Shahidi wa Maji, Tanzania.


From 5-8 July 2021, University of Glasgow and University of Dar Es Salaam (UDSM) hosted a Symposium on Urban Water Governance in partnership with the Tanzanian NGO Shahidi wa Maji and Edinburgh-based Water Witness International (WWI). Sixty-seven attendees from civil society, academia and government heard from eight speakers over four days on the politics of urban governance, theories of change, trust in water providers and decentralised water, sanitation and hygiene technologies. The symposium also showcased video testimony, interviews and a survey of residents of Dar Es Salaam. Full details including Zoom recordings and videos can be found at

The symposium highlighted dynamics of urban water governance in Dar Es Salaam, with a focus on the issue of social accountability for water provision, including reporting problems with broken pipes and leakage. Speakers included natural and social scientists, academics and NGO leaders. The team used the networks of their NGO partners to attract a wide audience of practitioners and academics working in the urban water sector across Africa. The symposium stimulated thought, discussion and the sharing of experience on a key governance problem touching on the sustainability of cities and communities as well as health and wellbeing of citizens.


Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the symposium was moved online. An external facilitator was invited to chair the event: Sareen Malik of the Kenyan NGO KEWASANET. The team used the extensive international network of Water Witness International (Edinburgh) to publicise the symposium to a core audience of NGOs active in the water sector across Africa and other parts of the developing world.

The team also commissioned additional fieldwork and a series of four short films by Dr Vicensia Shule recording interviews with residents and street-level (community) officials. The films were blended into the online format and used to enhance participants’ understanding of the context. In parallel, Dr Opportuna Kweka conducted interviews with an additional 92 residents and officials, and presented initial findings from this research. Ethical approval was sought and obtained from the University of Glasgow College of Social Sciences Research Ethics Committee.

The project team commissioned a website, which served as the symposium platform and cloud recordings of the presentations were posted there, as well as a link to the UK Data Archive record of survey data collected by Munro and Kweka in 2018 which was used in Munro’s presentation.

Contributions to challenges in low and middle-income countries (LMICs)

The team’s activities met the needs of communities in Dar es Salaam and more broadly across the African countries represented by the symposium attendees by:

  • providing a forum in which scientific and social scientific data relating to the urban water governance crisis in Dar es Salaam was discussed amongst groups of concerned practitioners from diverse and complementary disciplines;
  • enhancing the skills-base of NGO practitioners by exposing them to methodologies used by experts in diverse disciplines. The team brought together unique expertise in large scale water and wastewater infrastructure development, advocacy for social accountability in the water sector, decentralised WASH technologies, epidemiological research, analysis of public opinion on WASH-related issues, the politics of urban water governance, and the challenges of using film to support advocacy in the water sector;
  • connecting academic research to practitioners working in local communities and to officials responsible for delivering government policy.

The project underwent considerable adaptation as a result of the COVID pandemic, and these adaptations can be seen as part of the capacity-building contribution. Specifically, the project demonstrated how a symposium can be conducted entirely online, without the carbon emissions and expense associated with international travel, and still provide a lot of information about the local context, alongside meaningful opportunities for interaction. The use of film and audio-visual recordings mean that the symposium can also be used for asynchronous learning, which has the potential to extend its impact, and means the content can be re-used, signposted and/or shared on digital platforms to ensure that even those who could not attend are able to benefit from the insights generated by bringing together a diverse range of experts and juxtaposing their contributions with the testimony of residents and officials who are confronting water governance problems on a daily basis.

The cost effectiveness of the online symposium allowed the team to redirect funds towards generating high quality recorded testimony on film, and also to carry out additional fieldwork. This in turn enables them to deepen the collaborative, transnational and transdisciplinary relationships which allowed them to conduct a successful event. The strengthening of these relationships of trust are essential for continuing collaboration with LMICs in the post-COVID era.


The symposium took place from 5-8 July 2021, with additional fieldwork and filming taking place in the previous weeks. Research findings have yet to be published and impacts on the economy, society, culture or public policy are yet to be felt. However, there plans for future impact-related activities. For example, Sareen Malik of KEWASANET, who chaired the symposium, is planning to organise a webinar involving presentation of Munro’s findings to the CSOs they work with in informal settlements. They plan to invite partners from Uganda, Tanzania, West African Anglophone and Southern African regions to participate.

The team will continue to engage with international and Tanzanian NGO networks active in the water sector and to find ways to benefit from their networks, including potential impact and opportunities for future UKRI funded projects.

Project Outputs

The principal output of our symposium is the website The website forms a permanent record of the symposium, as it includes cloud recordings of each presentation. The symposium was held over four days, with two one-hour sessions each day. Each speaker spoke for 20 minutes, followed by a forty-minute Q&A. Sixty-seven attendees from civil society, academia and government attended the sessions. WWI conducted a formal evaluation afterwards and fifteen attendees returned questionnaires, confirming a high level of satisfaction with the content and organisation of the event and gleaning some useful suggestions.

Speakers included Mr Abel Dugange, Director of Shahidi wa Maji (SwM); Dr Opportuna Kweka, Senior Lecturer in Geography at UDSM and co-PI; Dr Nick Hepworth, founder and Executive Director of Water Witness International (WWI); Dr Vicensia Shule, an independent film producer in Tanzania; Dr Poppy Lamberton, Reader in parasitology and epidemiology at the Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine at Glasgow; Dr Jesper Katomero, coordinator of SwM’s and WWI’s Accountability for Water research programme; Dr Stephanie Connelly, Lecturer in Infrastructure and Environment in the School of Engineering at Glasgow; and Dr Neil Munro, PI, Senior Lecturer in Politics and International Relations at Glasgow.

Additional fieldwork by Dr Kweka in the city of Dar Es Salaam generated 92 interviews with residents and officials across the city. These complement the representative sample survey that was conducted in 2018, and provide the basis for new publications and research impact. Dr Katomero has expressed interest in joining the writing up of this research.

Four short films by Dr Shule recorded interviews with residents and street-level (community) officials, as well as including scenes of water pipes, storage facilities, and urban streetscapes. The films were blended into the website and provide visual context for the presentations and interviews.


Local Involvement

The team worked with street-level officials in order to identify sites for conducting interviews and filming. A number of officials with responsibility for handling complaints about water governance also agreed to be interviewed and, in some cases, to have their responses recorded on camera.

The team also worked hard to build relationships with the water utility and they managed to get the DAWASA Kimara office to provide their response as service providers. The team hopes to inform them with future policy briefs. By involving Shahidi wa Maji, a local NGO, and their international partner, Water Witness International, as collaborators, co-organizers and speakers at the symposium, the team gained access to networks of water governance practitioners at central and local levels and they will continue using the website in their day-to-day activities. One of the assistants for data collection is from TAWASANET which is a network of NGOS working on water issues in Tanzania. She has shown interest in using the project reports when they are ready.

The participants of the symposium were a mixture of government officials, NGO leaders and academics from across Africa. As an official from the Kenyan WASH ministry commented, the symposium helped her to understand “resource mobilisation and partnerships with donors and other players in WASH.”  An NGO leader from Uganda mentioned that the symposium helped her to understand “Use of data and evidence to lobby for change.”

A Kenyan academic commented:

“I learned quite a number [of things] but these three stood out for me: 1. Competing interests in water sector requires that water governance be all inclusive. 2. Involving the community in the management of WASH sector can reduce costs in WASH management. 3. Bottom-up approach in WASH sector is good for sustainability of the sector.”

Future Activities

Four directions are being considered in the next stage of collaboration:

  1. Producing a policy brief for the Ministry of Water, DAWASA and EWURA. The brief will be based on the recent research findings, including an article recently published in Journal of Development Studies based on the 2018 survey.
  2. Producing a research report for the project (October 2021) that can be used as the basis for drafting a new journal article as well as the policy brief (Nov 2021)
  3. Engaging a well-known Tanzanian cartoonist, Masoud Kipanya to produce materials highlighting key messages of the policy brief. The cartoon can be disseminated through newspapers, TV and radio Clouds where the cartoonist works as well as social media such as twitter and can be posted on the project website. The latter will be linked to the UDSM’s website.
  4. Producing messages on urban water governance for broadcast on radio, taking advantage of particular occasions like Water Day.
  5. Producing additional films to show more of the urban water governance, generating meaning beyond the usual “talking head” format.
  6. Presenting in the University of Dar es Salaam Research week (Unit and University level (March to May 2022) and hopefully being selected to join the Sabasaba Trade Exhibition (end of June to beginning of July, 2022) similar to the 2018 Project which won the UDSM College of Social Sciences award.

Capacity Strengthening

The project has built the capacity of participating individuals and organisations by:

  • demonstrating how problems of urban water governance directly impact the quality of life and living standards of ordinary citizens in diverse neighbourhoods;
  • illustrating coping strategies to ensure access to services through both official (public sector) water provision and informal (private) provision;
  • demonstrating potential of “social accountability” and other “rights-based” approaches to ensuring provision of basic services;
  • illustrating the variation amongst neighbourhoods and households within a complex urban environment and its intersection with social, economic and political inequalities.

The project has enabled the development of skills within the team by demonstrating how scientific and social scientific data, whether captured at the neighbourhood, household or individual level, can enhance the precision of policy analysis, sharpen the perception of options and serve as an effective tool of policy advocacy.

The project has also built on the capacity of the team reinforcing connections and building trust with an established urban water governance network in Africa connecting academics from diverse disciplines, advocacy groups, policy-makers and managers.

Finally, the project has built capacity beyond the team by engaging private subcontractors in the production of online content including the website and short films to meet international expectations and standards. Further, it has demonstrated how these activities can enable international communication and the sharing of experience even in circumstances where international travel is impossible, leveraging technology to adapt to the post-Covid world.