Where can I find information about spatial data in Tanzania? Who coordinates this work? How is it done? What is the availability of the roads data set? Who owns the data sets? What does it cost? What is the quality like? These are all questions I have related to for the around ten years I have been on the Tanzania GIS scene. It is a sad fact that not much has changed since I first arrived in Tanzania ten years ago. Although I moved back to Norway in 2006 I have kept in touch with the GIS scene and also host the TZGISUG website as well as being one of the administrators for the TZGISUG mailing list.
To my knowledge there are now activities which might be able to move the work forward – at least with regards to environmental data management. I am part of this work and will probably be able to report back on it – later.
As for the history writing the situation for a national spatial data infrastructure in Tanzania has been described in a paper by Kalande and Ondulo (see paper review in an other article on this website). It has also been researched by the Swedish student Jonas Johansson. Johansson did a field study on Spatial Data Infrastructure in Tanzania. Its title is: Improving Access to Geographic Information. Exploring the National Spatial Data Infrastructure Initiative in Tanzania. Read on for some exercepts and link to the PDF-file.
Johanssons study was funded by a Minor Field Study scholarship from the Swedish Agency for International Development Cooperation (Sida). This made it possible for him to travel to Tanzania and interview several persons central to the development of a NSDI plan in Tanzania.
The following organizations and persons were interviewed:
- University College of Lands and Architectural Studies (UCLAS)
- National Bureau of Statistics (NBS)
- Tanzania Electric Supply Company Limited (TANESCO)
- University of Dar es Salaam Institute of Resource Assessment (UDSM-IRA)
- Surveys and Mapping Division (SMD) of the Ministry of Lands and Human
- Settlements Development
- Dar es Salaam City Council
- National Environmental Management Council (NEMC)
- Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security
- Department of Survey and Urban Planning, Zanzibar Land and Environment (SMOLE)
- Soil and Water Ltd
- Tanzania Meteorological Agency
- National Development Corporation (NDC)
- Swedish Geological
In his discussion Johansson points to the following on funding issues for the NSDI initiative in Tanzania:
Funding has turned out to be a factor in the Tanzanian NSDI initiative. Remaining donor funds from the 2002 Population and Housing Census initially enabled the steering committee to hold a few meetings. When that source was depleted, the potential sources of funding of NSDI at the beginning of 2006 seem to be the involved organisations separately. Interesting research is going on today on the topic of national budgeting and SDI, where cross-agency budgeting for SDI have been presented as an option.
He also refers to a dialogue with the National Environmental Management Council in Dar where an important issue is raised::
Another reason that the steering committee activity has declined, according to NEMC, may be simply that a NSDI is not deemed critical to perform day-to-day work at the involved organisations.
Some stakeholders considered this a passing issue and firmly believed that a NSDI would be established soon:
Considering global trends however, several respondents believe that NSDI will eventually be established in Tanzania and that it is just a matter of time before that will happen.
Based on this report and the paper of Kalande and Ondulo it seems that there is an interest over many years for further work on a National Spatial Data Infrastructure. As earlier mentioned I am hoping that more recent efforts will move us forward. In the meantime I suggest you read Johansson (2006):
(This paper review was published in the TZGISUG website some years ago. Since then the website has changed profile and I found it more relevant to pull this article back to my own website. Some changes has been made since its first publication.)