The Jipange project helps local communities in Dar Es Salaam develop disaster plans for their wards (a local administration level). Using these plans, the wards are better prepared for flood events and they can better cope with the changing environment. This will reduce the negative impact of floods in their livelyhood.
One absolute requirement for effective community response is information gathering and sharing. Currently, there are little mechanisms for this, except individual WhatsApp messages between individuals and in small groups. In this unstructured communication, much useful information is lost and flood preparation and response is extremely challenging.
To support the Wards, FloodTags extended the existing Tanzania media monitor and implemented the Telegram chatbot for flood reporting on ward level. We organised several trainings to the ward members to learn how to use the chatbot and discuss the appropriate response procedures. As a result, in Dar Es Salaam:
Ward members connected to Jipange receives information from news and social media about the flood conditions within and near their (sub)ward. This helps them understand the severeness of the flood as experienced on-the-ground.
Ward members can report floods via Telegram and view them online in a structured way. This gives them a quick overview of the situation in their own and in neighbouring wards, which they can use for response but also to formulate and support aid requests.
Ward members can share this data to first responders, creating instant awareness of their situation at authorities and NGO's.
See the figure how the information is shared and used.
Empowering citizens for flood response is much needed, but also very complex in many cities. However, by connecting to already existing communication means and strategies, we found a way to support local administrations via a chatbot and a simple dashboard.
The same approach can be used any other city in the world with urban flood problems, especially those that embrace local empowerment of citizens. If on top of that, direct messaging such as WhatsApp or Telegram is already used, there will sure be a good ground to follow the Jipange approach.