Santi Vidal

Stone Town: the old city
Location: Valencia, Spain
Nationality: Spain
Biography: Santiago Vidal is a freelance photographer based in Valencia, Spain. At the present time he is learning more on telling stories. He documents news, festivals, and works on personal projects.  He has achieved publishing in the New York Times,... read on
Public Story
Stone Town: the old city
Copyright santi vidal 2021
Date of Work 11/01/18 - Ongoing
Updated 08/20/19
Stone Town, the Old City in Zanzibar island, an autonomous region in Tanzania, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As by today, there are no private, governmental or international funds for its maintenance, preservation and sustainable development. Plus, the inhabitants in Stone Town face enormous trouble regarding education and town planning.

Whilst impressive strides had been made in increasing access to pre-primary and primary education, many challenges remained, included shortages of classrooms, learning materials, and appropriately qualified teachers. Equity in allocation and access to resources, and education outcomes, is an issue in terms of geography, gender, and socioeconomic background. Poor families struggle to get their children in the classrooms, as there is a lack of schools that are overcrowded and rich families pay to ensure there is a place for their infant. School drop off is at high rate, as only 58% of children finish their primary education.

Plus, in the last 5 years, the amount of visitors has tripled. The resultant growing development puts a great pressure on the buildings and environment. More people means more traffic, which means more pressure for more roads and parkings near the Old City. Furthermore, the construction of new buildings and hotels is a threat for its unique appearance. In other order of things, rain makes the traditional render used in buildings peel away from walls, exposing the coral stone to the elements. The water weakens the lime mortar or washes it away. This can lead to the collapse of coral-stone buildings. On top of it, global warming is another issue: through rising sea levels, all the buildings on the waterfront are in great danger.

The old part of the main city in Zanzibar, is as old as the first told stories of the island. It is a magic place to get lost in – lost in direction, and at the same time in a fantasy of intriguing past, full of contradictions; the darkest horrors of slave trading, the entrance to the interior of Africa by explorers and exploiters, the sultans and their harems, the wealth in gold, ivory and clove fortunes, the power of a strategic location and its diplomacy. Nowadays, after centuries of history, Stone Town drifts towards an uncertain and unbalanced future.

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