Call for Research that will provide Missing Urban Data Required to Enhance Investment in Tanzania.


    Tanzania’s urban population is expected to grow from 15 million people in 2012 to 60 million people by mid-century. Tanzania already has the fourth largest population in Africa living under poverty (World Bank, 2016)1 and national statistics suggest, unusually, that infant mortality and life expectancy are currently worse in urban centres than in rural areas. The country’s Five Year Development Plan anticipates urbanisation placing additional pressure on urban infrastructure and services in spite of high levels of GDP growth in recent years.

    In partnership with Tanzania’s National Government, the New Climate Economy (NCE’s) Coalition for Urban Transitions (CUT)is looking to support sustainable urbanisation in Tanzania. The NCE’s experience conducting National Urban Transition Assessments (NUTA) in Ethiopia and Uganda reveals the importance of such efforts being firmly grounded in local knowledge, the local policy cycle and available institutional capacity.

    Building on this experience the CUT team in Tanzania has established an Urbanisation Laboratory, that is chaired by Tanzania’s National Planning Commission and coordinated by Economic and Social Research Foundation (ESRF). The Laboratory will commission research that is required to produce a credible and implementable NUTA and to outline a plausible “roadmap” for better urbanisation. The primary audience for this work will be national government departments in Tanzania, although it is understood that effective urbanisation involves government and non-government actors at multiple scales.

    Data from Africa are improving steadily. By 2010, 47 African countries had conducted a national census (UNECA, 2014), and an almost equal number of African countries conduct General Household Surveys. In 2017 the Statistical Commission for Africa (overseen by UNECA) will have a bespoke ‘Urban Programme’, and the World Bank Group is rolling out Urbanization Reviews across the continent that provide detailed demographic and economic data in support of the New Urban Agenda.

    In spite of these improvements, investors and local planners engage African cities with a sense of uncertainty. Where data exist, the impression is that they do not capture the full extent of cities in Africa; that they misinterpret both opportunities and risk. This uncertainty and unfamiliarity with regards to African cities is a problem. It manifests as a premium paid for infrastructure and finance and it makes gauging success and failure of different programmes difficult.

    Tanzania represents a quintessential example. Tanzania has an Urbanization Review programme in place and the emerging data are important in steering investment. However, official statistics on living conditions in Tanzania’s largest cities present contradictory information. GDP growth has been over 7% for the last decade but household consumption hardly increased, with food accounting for the largest share of consumption in rural and urban areas (NBS, Household Budget Survey Main Report 2011/12). The fixed consumption levels imply that Tanzania’s macroeconomic growth has had limited changes in individual lifestyles and behavior. The small increases in consumption did lead to large drops in basic needs poverty in Dar es Salaam from 14% in 2007 to just over 4% in 2011/12 but almost no change in other urban areas where the rate fell from 23% to 22% (NBS, Household Budget Survey Main Report 2011/12).

    At the same time life expectancy is lower in urban areas than rural areas in Tanzania, with higher prevalence of HIV, obesity, maternal mortality and diarrhea (Levira and Gemma, 2017)2. The health statistics are, quite possibly, the result of the poor quality of the built environment in urban Tanzania where 65% of urban households live in slums (UN-Habitat, Global Urban Observatory, Slum Population) and have low levels of access to urban services including water, sanitation, solid waste, public transport and healthcare.

    The extent of the informal economy and informal neighbourhoods in Tanzania is a significant contributor to the sense of the unknown and uncertainty that planners and investors report.


    To unpack this complexity and make for a more appropriate allocation of scarce resources, the Tanzania Urbanisation Laboratory is commissioning a piece of research that documents the issues faced by different income groups in three Tanzanian cities: Dar es Salaam, Arusha and Mtwara.

    The research should provide new insights for national government officials into the challenges facing urban citizens – including those in informal neighborhoods - in urban Tanzania.

    The need to ‘know the city’ before planning, investing in and building African cities is fundamental. If they are to prove sustainable, infrastructure and services need to be designed backwards from urban citizen’s “lived reality” and their household budgets, while business support initiatives need greater attention to markets, and government and donor efforts need to understand and strengthen the livelihood and business strategies that have been adopted in Tanzania’s informal economy and settlements.

    Researchers may propose different methodologies and formats for the final deliverable on this project. These could include a photojournal, biographies of the daily routine of select urban citizens or new data from local urban communities that reveals risks and opportunities. The key is that the research must identify risks and opportunities that relate to urban life and are not apparent in the macro-economic data that is reported in the Urbanization Review for example. The collected information should include qualitative and quantitative data on access to shelter and work, transport, energy, water, sanitation and safety and security. It should also elucidate the different modes and layers of governance that citizens draw on or are exposed to in the course of their day to day life.


    The suitable research team will:

    • Have a track-record of engaging the informal economy in African cities.
    • Have a track-record in documenting, writing and showcasing their work though the methodology that is chosen.
    • Be able to present, in a compelling format, the type of information that will steer future investments in Tanzania’s cities a more appropriate direction.


    • The key deliverable on this research will be a report, photojournal or film that documents the lived reality of a cross-section of urban residents three Tanzanian cities: Dar es Salaam, Arusha and Mtwara.
    • The delivered piece of research should be rich in qualitative and quantitative data and enable better investment and planning decisions.
    • The deliverable should be accompanied by a 2 page Executive Summary.
    • The all-inclusive budget for this work should not exceed $50,000, but proposals will compete in terms of budget and value for money. Budgets less than the threshold amount will count favourably in the evaluation of proposals.
    • The final deliverable must be submitted by 31 July 2018.
    • The research team will be expected to engage local stakeholders including government departments and will draw on existing data, but may need to look for new sources of information in compiling a credible and useful research.
    • It is the intention that the research be enriched by the Urbanisation Laboratory. The successful research team will be required to present their proposal and methodology to the Laboratory in Tanzania, in person, in mid-November 2017 and again in mid-March 2018. At each event the appointed researchers should be open to peer review and recommendations from the Laboratory members. This process is designed to ensure a better research product and understanding of the research findings among local decision makers.


    • Proposals should be submitted to Dr Kate Owens at the World Resources Institute [] and Anton Cartwright at the African Centre for Cities [] and Mussa Martine at ESRF [] in the same email by 6pm East African Time, Friday 22 September 2017.
    • Proposals should be explicit about the key criteria against which they will be judged, namely: composition and competence of the research team, all-inclusive costs, track-record in conducting this type of research and knowledge of Tanzania or East African cities.
    • Proposals will be evaluated by a core team within the Urbanisation Laboratory comprised of members from African Centre for Cities (ACC), World Resources Institute (WRI) (Ross Centre), Economic and Social Research Foundation (ESRF) and the Tanzanian Government. Conflicts of interest will be declared and managed so as to ensure they do not interfere with the appointment process.
    • All submissions will be acknowledged by email. Successful contractors will be announced by 10 October 2017 and expected to begin work by 1 November 2017.
    • The successful researchers will be required to enter into a contract with WRI Ross Centre, who is responsible for disbursing fees on this project. The final payment will only be made once a satisfactory report has been received.
    • Members of the Tanzanian Urbanization Laboratory are eligible to submit proposals but will be required to declare conflicts of interest and recuse themselves from the evaluation of proposals.
    • Queries on this research can be submitted by email to

    1World Bank. 2016. Tanzania economic update: the road less traveled – unleashing public private partnerships

    2Urban Health in Tanzania: Questioning the Urban Advantage.

    Last updated on 2017-09-06

ESRFs activities are supported by the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF) and International Development Research Centre (IDRC)