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District level spatial information: Its requirements and use for allocating social infrastructure
Sekeleti, Martin / 2004


In the past, planning was centrally carried out by central government and its agencies for the communities. Realising that centrally made plans and directives failed to deliver public services effectively and efficiently, the Government of Tanzania, in the early 1990s, initiated a local government reform programme for decentralisation of power and resources, assuming that decentralisation would lead to improved access to spatial information and decisions that reflect the needs and priorities of the community. This work attempted to explore this assumption by examining the planning process at district level through which decisions and allocations of social infrastructure are made. Allocation of social investment in education, health and water sectors at district (local government) level, its spatial and local information requirements, use and constraints were examined in the context of the current level of decentralisation in Muheza District, Tanzania. Employing social survey techniques, checklists, semi-structured interviews, workshops and direct observations were used to collect primary data from key informants based at district and community level. Spatial information requirement in Muheza district does not match its mobilisation, use and application in planning allocation of social infrastructure at district level. From a historical background, constraints to its access include inflexible, hierarchical institutions, a poor and weak spatial information base and low human resource motivation and skill in spatial information management. There is a wide spatial information gap between its requirement and availability, let alone its use and application. Although communities participate in problem identification and prioritisation of their felt-needs, community action plans fail to match with those made for social investment allocation at district level. Therefore, the assumption that decentralisation of decision-making will automatically result in improved use of spatial and local information and decisions that reflect the needs and priorities of local citizens is na´ve. The detail of spatial information deficiency for district planning of social investment allocation requires a greater depth of assessment of available information, needs of the district, human resource capacities and needs, and establishment of a District Spatial Information and Planning System in order to satisfy the current requirement for good quality spatial information.

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