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Trends in urban planning, climate adaptation and resilience in Zanzibar, Tanzania

Garth Myers
Jonathan Walz
Aboud Jumbe


Over recent decades, there has been substantial change in Zanzibar, due to, among others, global climate change impacts. The semi-autonomous polity faces challenges to foster resilient urban communities and planning for mitigation and  adaptation to climate change, not least because of its island nature and rapid urbanization. This article addresses urban and environmental planning measures from 2010 to 2020 aimed at confronting the impacts of climate change and working toward resilience and adaptation in urban Zanzibar. The study was conducted between June and August 2020, and primarily involved a combination of desktop studies, online discussions, and virtual meetings with key actors in the land, climate, and disaster risk policy and governance aspects in Zanzibar. The review provides information on the current responses to policy, legal and institutional setup in terms of the key issues related to land use, climate and disaster risk reduction in Zanzibar. Thematic analysis was used to connect land-use planning, climate adaptation, and disaster risk reduction documentation of the situational assessment, determination and respective recommendations concerning land use and climate adaptation. It is argued that planning for climate change requires greater social will, financial investment, and the conversion of science to policy than currently exists in Zanzibar. Dynamic individual and governmental efforts and select community engagement are likely insufficient to produce resilience, as large-scale donor-funded climate adaptation interventions are largely top-down in orientation and  often miss out on local community-oriented climate solutions. Smaller NGOs are more practical for understanding and addressing  community-oriented priorities to support climateresilient initiatives and enhance local livelihood priorities and participation against climate impacts, including natural disasters and everyday degradation. The article concludes with policy recommendations both specific to Zanzibar and relevant across the region.

Keywords: Adaptation, global climate change, policy interventions, urban planning, Zanzibar