Dar Digest

A quick post to relay two cool things that happened here in Dar this past week or so. These took place in addition to all the other weird stuff that goes on daily here, of course, since the US is not the only WTF nation in the world right now.

First, friends in our apartment block (Unit A, 6 stories tall w/ 13 units total) held a get-to-know-thy neighbor party. Dar operates dynamically with lots of new people moving in, albeit less so because of dynamic innovation and change and more reflecting locals from the undynamic countryside migrating en-masse to try to find anything to engage in. Plus, expatriates seem to operate now on higher frequency arrivals and departures to avoid the increasingly xenophobic immigration crackdown of the government. In short, lots of new faces—30,000+ net per month—appear throughout the city, including in our upper tier oceanside mtaa. So, new neighbors to meet.

With only 13 units, a lot of singles, and reps from 3 of the apartments missing, the number of people at the get-to-know party—held in our friend Christine’s house—only hit around 15. But look at the below, shaded areas representing the birth country or most-recent home of our building mates. A bit of a UN, plus everybody there does righteous stuff. In addition to the amazingly important work on urban infrastructure and agricultural conservation that Sarah and I take on, my partymates teach Arabic (to learn Quranic prayers), save refugees, build big buildings, build little buildings, build medium size buildings, import stuff, fight for legal justice, save marine areas, and promote household solar energy uptake around the country.


The last guy, Solar Man from France, has terra incognita to make cognita in Tanzania. I read earlier this month the jaw dropping stat that less than 1 in 3 households in all of mainland Tanzania are electrified, only about 1 in 6 in rural areas.

This makes solar a potentially big deal in vast areas of the country, where the grid hasn’t yet bothered to show up. And in fact, some rural areas have 100% OF THEIR RURAL HOUSEHOLDS connected to electricity powered by solar!! But no fist pumping yet. Remember How to Lie with Statistics, the 1954 best seller about the little dodges used to massage messages with numbers? The fact is that many of those regions with super high solar penetration—Shinyanga, for example, in northwestern Tanzania—have super low electrification rates. All of the 7% of rural households in the region that are electrified get their electricity from solar, yay, but the other 93% get their electricity from only dreams at night. Bonne chance, Solar Man!


OK, I got to run, but briefly, the other cool (in a metaphorical sense) event this past week, my ½ marathon through the streets of Dar. It started at 6:15 AM at 70o F and 94% humidity, finishing a (long) while later at 77o F and 85% humidity. I ran very controlled so as to not show up the hosts—and since I hadn’t run even half that distance in my previous 5+ years—and still managed to beat the winning marathon time of 2:11:11. And I did not wake up in Aga Khan hospital.