Urban governance in Tanzania


Identify key literature on urban governance in Tanzania


Urbanisation has been increasing quickly in Tanzania with population growth in cities twice that of the national rate. Despite this, there is a small body of knowledge about urban governance comparative to the large number of references on urbanization in the country. This literature predominantly focuses on Dar es Salaam, and fails to disaggregate findings through the lens of gender, sexuality, age, ethnicity and disability.

The opportunities and challenges urbanisation generates for development have been well documented. Many authors emphasise that making urbanisation work for development is not just about technical issues but about urban governance – the formal and informal political decision-making over the collective functioning and organisation of city life.

Comparative to the large number of references to urbanisation in Tanzania, there is a small body of knowledge about urban governance in the country. However, these major findings can be deemed conclusive thanks to a combination of methodological rigour, methodological diversity, and general consistency. This literature largely:

  • Focuses on Dar es Salaam, although there are a handful of studies on other prominent urban settlements. There is a dearth of research on small towns, emerging urban settlements and mid-sized cities.
  • Fails to disaggregate findings on urban governance through the lens of gender, sexuality, age (especially youth and the elderly), ethnicity, and disability. Consideration of how these various social structures interplay (e.g. for women tenants who are poor) and how this affects urban governance is also scant and not systematic.

The literature highlights three main areas which are central to urban governance:

  • Political economy of diverse urban contexts
  • Land use, urban farming, and land property
  • The provision of sufficient and good-quality public goods and services


Suggested citation

Combaz, E. (2015). Urban governance in Tanzania (GSDRC Helpdesk Research Report 1231). Birmingham, UK: GSDRC, University of Birmingham.