Monitoring emerging small towns in Tanzania: outline ideas for a ‘proof of concept’ study

Project Active from to State

The Tanzania President’s Office on Regional Administration and Local Government (PO-RALG) worries that many Emerging Small Towns (ESTs) in the country are still officially recognised as rural locations. Estimates indicate that there may be as many as 800 ESTs.  The PO-RALG has identified the lack of accurate and timely information on ESTs as a major obstacle to sound policymaking and urban planning. To remedy this, the researchers, together with the PO-RALG, aim to collect better data on ESTs.

The PO-RALG takes stock of all ESTs in the country, but how this is done leaves room for errors and inconsistencies.  In particular, the PO-RALG has asked the staff at the district level to identify all ESTs in their districts and obtain data about them, such as infrastructure, housing, natural resources and land use.  These data are collected locally in 169 districts and sent to PO-RALG HQ by e-mail. They are then compiled, in a somewhat piecemeal manner, into a single database.

The quality, consistency and scope of these data can be extended by the introduction of a computerised system that has the following features:

  1. Browser-based and data held on a secure central server
  2. Allows offline data entry with the option of using handheld devices for direct data capture
  3. GPS functionality and mapping features
  4. Multi-user operation
  5. Configurable by the PO-RALG staff after appropriate training.

The researchers will begin by examining the data already collected and held by the PO-RALG.  The analysis will identify the units of study, the data definitions, the coding systems and conventions used and the types of reports and other information products that have been created so far. Then the researchers will create a working application to demonstrate the proof of concept.  Some of the data supplied by the PO-RALG would be reworked and migrated into a database system that satisfies the criteria outlined above.

This project aims to assist the PO-RALG to collect better data on which to base their policy decisions, and also, to construct a high-quality dataset on ESTs to conduct research on issues related to secondary towns.