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Dar / Dodoma Comparison

We went to Tanzania to explore the possibility of uni student ministry but Tanzania’s a big place with a number of universities so one question we have to ask is ‘Where in Tanzania?’ The two main places we looked at were Dar es Salaam and Dodoma. Both were keen for us to come so it’s really up to us to choose where we want to go. Here’s a table I drew up comparing the two based on our experiences. If you put the mouse over the issue it should highlight the lines that go with it.

Issue Dodoma Dar es Salaam
Size Small Large
Location Super isolated

At best 6 hour trip from Dar

Very dusty

On the coast.

Close to airports, easy transport to other centres

Quite polluted.

Weather Dry and hot Humid and hot
Housing On campus houses – 3 bedroom, small kitchen, concrete floors, very odd plumbing e.g. shower in toilet. Probably in apartment, small but big enough for a family. The missionaries’ place we saw was nicer than anything we saw in Dodoma – tiled floors, less dust, less run down.
Quality of life Lots of room for kids to run around.

Sometimes run out of water. Can’t drink tap water. Internet / phone goes down regularly.

Very crowded and busy. Traffic a nightmare.

Lots of convenience – more western dress, transport, fast food, shops, etc. Drinkable water. Phone and internet more reliable.

Respite Very little – need to travel a long way. Movies, beach, restaurants, etc. Easy travel out of the city.
Medical help Clinic but doctor / medication often not available.

Ante-natal clinic but no-one to man it (may change).

Better access to medications / doctors.

Big hospital but not known for good quality.

Expat community Quite a few at St John’s. Lots of wealthy NGO workers but few missionaries.
Language learning Can be limited because English is the official language at St John’s. Would need to work hard at this. No choice other than Swahili.
Student work opportunities 9 universities; St John’s is open to having us; TAFES keen for us to work there and elsewhere.

Living on campus at St John’s provides lots of opportunities to share our life and home with students. Also, good for juggling student ministry and kids.

Heaps of opportunities with TAFES.

Would have to live off campus – might limit Tamie’s involvement substantially.

Strategy Tanzania’s capital; govt pouring resources into UDom; St John’s known for quality. Largest student population in Tanzania.

Categories: Tanzania Written by Tamie

Tagged as:

Tamie Davis

Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at

5 replies

  1. Hi Guys, Good to hear about what you’ve been up to. I presume the headings on that table were wrong though!

  2. hi, i was just browsing blogs on tanzania (i live here) and came across this one. i’m really excited you guys are considering planting a college ministry in tanzania; there’s a real opportunity to reach those who will soon be in influential leadership positions throughout the nation. i’d like to keep up with what you guys are doing, and pray for you in this process.

    i’d add or change a few things on your list though (sam already pointed out that the headings were opposite):
    – dodoma in certain times of the year can be relatively cool at night — compared with dar (though if you’re really close to the ocean, you can get a great breeze even in dar).
    – the tap water in dar is not potable. you won’t find a place in tanzania where you can drink the water from the tap — unless someone’s gone to a great deal of trouble in the plumbing of a particular house or building.
    – my experience is that the phone service (cell phones) is pretty comparable between the two cities. shouldn’t be much difference at all (i don’t think any).
    – dar for sure has better medical facilities, but there should always be a doctor and medications available in dodoma. i live in rural tanzania, and can still always get to a doctor and (most) medicines. my daughter was born at aga khan hospital in dar (which is pretty nice), but there are a few really quality hospitals/clinics there in town (where we’ll go next time).
    – there are hundreds (if not thousands) more missionaries in dar than dodoma. i’ve never been to st. john’s, but i can think of easily 40+ missionaries in dar just that i have met in passing and whatnot. and i doubt many of the ngo workers are any more wealthy than the missionaries.
    – not sure what you’re looking for as far as language, but you’ll find LOTS of english speakers in dar. i use swahili only here in geita, but when i go to dar, i end up using a lot of english (people want to practice). dodoma town (i know nothing of the university) has considerably less english speakers.
    – dodoma’s going to grow a great deal over the next 10-? years. i personally think this would be a great time to get in there. the gov’t is “finally” preparing to spend / spending huge amounts of money to make it more of a proper capital city. lots of tanzanians are starting to invest more cash in dodoma too.
    – if you end up in dodoma, there are a couple of nicer and relaxing places there where you could experience a few hours of “respite” without leaving town. there’s a superb italian restaurant, and the new dodoma hotel has decent food, a nice atmosphere (when parliament’s not in session), and a pool.

    i hope i don’t come across as rude “correcting” things. i just know when we were surveying, we were able to get a picture of those places that were options for placing our ministry — but we were only in each place for a short time, and our picture wasn’t quite complete. if i can help you guys in any way, let me know. you can find my email address on my blog under the “partners” page.

  3. Oh yes, thanks guys! Changed them now.

    James, thanks for dropping by and for adding your point of view. :) We were only there a week and these were our first impressions or things that we were told by other missios. So heaps glad to have your input to flesh this out a bit!

    With the potable water, though, in Dar, we stayed at the Free Pentecostal Church of Tanzania Service Centre and you could drink all the water there. Maybe they had their own system? Good to know not all of Dar is like that.

    We’re definitely planning to learn swahili and to learn it well!

    Thanks for the info about hospitals. I’d be keen to hear more about it. We were told that you pretty much have to go to Nairobi to have a baby – I take it you disagree?

  4. potable water: some people have started putting uv treatment bulbs in their water line, and it makes all the water coming into the house safe to drink (as long as the flow is under 5 gallons per minute). so that’s probably what they’ve done. i just didn’t want you to plan on being able to drink the water in dar’s taps — not without considerable work (and some money).

    will you go to school for swahili, or learn it as you go? we went to school in iringa and loved it.

    as far as hospitals in dar, there’s a new women’s health clinic that’s extremely nice — nicer than any hospital in which we would have had a baby in the states. and then there are a couple of other places with quality facilities and western doctors. we had baylor at aga khan, which we will not do again. but we will have our next child in dar; we’ll just be going to one of the other places. international school of tanganyika has a really nice clinic, and they did much of our post-natal stuff (but they don’t deliver for first-time mothers). then there’s another place that did a little of our pre-natal stuff (they were good, but can’t remember the name off the top of my head). but i think our next baby will be at the well woman’s clinic.

  5. Yep, we’ll go to school for swahili. We’re hoping to come with CMS and they have a strong policy of language learning. I think they normally get newbies on the field to do 6 months or so but I’d have to check that. We’ve heard about the school in Iringa – everyone speaks well of it!

    Thanks for the info about hospitals. I think we’re leaning towards Dodoma at the moment but good to know there are closer options than Nairobi or coming home!

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