UrbanHIT – Urban Heterogeneity and Infrastructure Transitions


New article on Urban Resilience and the Coping with Blackouts in Dar es Salaam

Toward Urban Resilience? Coping with Blackouts in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

The seamless and ubiquitous supply of infrastructure services such as electricity is usually seen as a critical backbone of modern urban societies. Yet electricity supply in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, like many other infrastructure services in cities in the Global South, is unreliable and unpredictable, with urban power cuts being everyday occurrences. Major challenges in electricity supply have resulted in severe crises leading to spatially uneven rationing of electricity. Amid such insecurities, however, the criticality of such infrastructure services and the shortfall of reliable networked services are met with innovation, creative maneuvering, and the building of adaptive systems that allow cities to continue to function. Based on debates on urban and infrastructure resilience and heterogeneous infrastructures, this article examines the coping mechanisms of urban residents in response to electricity blackouts in Dar es Salaam. It identifies the different energy constellations that function either complementarily or alternatively to networked services. Pointing to the adaptive capacities of urban dwellers that enable them to be prepared for power cuts but also highlighting their unequal access to infrastructure services, it argues for a more critical reassessment of debates on urban and infrastructural vulnerability and resilience from a Southern perspective.

The link to this open access article can be found here.