Housing in informal settlements often lacks construction techniques that adopt criteria of resilience to natural hazards. Smartphones are rapidly diffusing in economically developing countries. The aim of this study was to assess the current use of smartphones by the masons of the informal settlements of Iringa, Tanzania, and to identify pathways for improving their construction practices. Data were collected through a mixed method approach that includes in-depth interviews, surveys, and a focus group with masons. The results reveal that only a few masons received formal training, most of them have never interacted with a qualified engineer nor consulted trained professionals when needed. Most masons own a smartphone and they extensively use it to gather technical information from the web, transfer money through mobile payments, share images of construction details, and promote their work on social media. The broad use of smartphones shows potential for enhancing construction quality. This article presents a unique analysis of the use of smartphones in the construction of informal settlements in Tanzania, which could be extended to other countries. Based on the findings, new strategies are proposed to engage with local stakeholders and foster the exchange of technical knowledge for safer settlements via smartphones.
- Disaster risk reduction
- Informal settlements