Battling the realities of climate change in Tanzania

Saturday August 10 2019

By Haika Kimaro @Haikakim hkimaro@tz.nationmedia.com

Mtwara. Few years ago, there were stories imagined to have been happening in distant areas, but today, such events have become common locally as Tanzania battles effects of climate change.

You will hear news, such as “An Islet in Pangani District is on the verge of being swallowed by the sea.”

Or, “The government had to use millions of donor funds to build a strong wall in the section of Ocean Road in Dar es Salaam to save the road from being washed away by strong ocean currents.”

Tanzania battles climate change. Researchers have established that climate change is one of the factors contributing immensely to environmental damage.

Rise in global temperatures has led to melting of polar ice and increasing ocean depths, thus swallowing low lying islands and Islets as the case of one in Pangani.

Not only environment, climate change has also ravaged lives and ecosystems. Experts say there is no other way of countering the negative effects of climate change other than changing life style.

It is well documented that cleaner and stable environment are paramount for development of any nation.

Global warming is threatening smooth implementation of UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs) if countries lag behind in implementing goal number 13 which focuses on dealing with climate change.

Not to be outdone by others, Tanzania has charted its own strategies to make sure that achievement of goal number 13 does not elude the country. These strategies also involve the private sector.

A technology innovation and development firm, TaTEDO, is one of institutions which have been supporting government strategies on safeguarding the environment.

While on one hand climate change causes environmental destruction, but on the other, environment destruction is also source of climate change, according to some experts from TaTEDO.

TaTEDO Director, EstomihSawe, notes for instance that many institutions which bring together large groups of people like schools, use a lot of firewood and charcoal as cooking fuel. This comes from trees which are important in conserving the environments.

He notes that if wood and charcoal are substituted with another kind of energy, it is possible to make turnaround and ensure that environment were protected as no trees will be cut.

Similar thing can be done in urban areas where charcoal has become the major cooking fuel for many middle and low income families.

If it is no possible to do away with using wood and charcoal as cooking fuel, it is possible to gradually make the changes through technology which will reduce the amount of wood and charcoal which is used for cooking. TaTEDO has come up with modern burners which consume small amount of charcoal. These burners use 70 percent less charcoal compared to common cookers.

“Our aim is to spread this technology among young people, women and elders so as to enable these groups take part in environment conservation. If young people in education institutions are involved in such programmes, they will be good environment protection ambassadors when they return to their communities,” he says.

He said in 2018 they managed to reach out to 7,840 youths in groups across the country through eight civil societies. The societies were encouraged to engage the youth groups in the programmes meant to protect the environment and human rights.

“When you deal with environment you also have to deal with human rights. Our target is to work in villages and when we distribute these improved burners in education institutions we enable them to eat well and this make them strong and thus they can perform well in their studies. Later, we believe such youths will become responsible citizens and serve their country well in the future,” he notes.

The Ruvuma Zone Coordinator from World Wildlife Fund (WWF), James Nshare, says Sweden International Aid Agency (SIDA) has also chipped in to fight climate change through a project known as Leading the change.

He says the project focuses on building societies which can resiliently participate in the protection of natural resources such as forests, oceans and wildlife among other through organic farming, which do not harm the environment as well as use of renewable energy which would lead to decrease on the use of firewood.

He says through the project, the government and other stakeholders can learn strategies which they will apply later when formulating policies, directives, plans and budget and make them reflect the environmental protection component.

“Amount of firewood which experts have proposed as ideal to be used is about 43 million cubic metres. But actual data indicate that we use more than what we replenish in terms of tree which we fell as cooking fuel and other human uses,” says Nshare

Ms MaimunaKabatesi, Project Manager for the Green and Inclusive Energy at Humanist Institute for Cooperation with Developing Countries (Hivos), says it is encouraging that some youths have formed or joined groups which implement projects related to environmental protection. He named such groups as Africa Youth Initiative on Climate change (AYCC).

 

Young people

She said globally there are nations which have also managed to engage children in the fight against climate change.

She named Belgium, England and Sweden as such countries. She noted that under special programmes in those countries, every Friday students do not go to school and they spend their time on projects on environmental protection.

“It is good if young people are involved because climate change affects their lives. So, it good to teach them how they can participate in ensuring that they create safe environment for their lives.

If we don’t take action now, their lives will be jeopardised in the future,” she says.

But such programmes are hard to undertake in developing and poor countries as costs of attending international meetings where such programmes are planned hinders many from third world countries from attending.

She says only few young people do attend large meetings such as COP which discusses in details issues on environmental protection and climate change.

“It is unfortunate that many governments and private sector do not embrace ideas from youths on environmental protection and climate change issues. But new strong voices from young people on these issues can led to new ideas which will help us fight this problem,” says Kabatesi.

A cook at Community Development College in Mtwara, Ms Hadija Ahmed, says for long time they have been using traditional burners in cooking which uses a lot of wood. The burners also produce a lot of smoke which is detrimental to their health.

“We use a lot of firewood every day. This wood is collected by students meaning they have to use time which they were required to do other things to fetch firewood,” she says.

But they have now redeemed themselves after starting using efficient burners provided to then by TaTEDO.

“We now use very little wood. There is also no smoke from the burners and this has improved our health. Our kitchen is now very clean and safe to work in,” she notes.

Ms AdelfinaMbonde, a head mistress at Mnolela secondary school in Lindi Region, says before receiving the efficient burners the school was using 3,200 pieces of firewood every day but now the same amount is being used for 26 days!

She says in the past students spend two days in a week fetching firewood in order to get 20 pieces of firewood which every student was supposed to present. But now, each student is required to produce only five pieces of firewood in a week.

“We have no school farm for firewood, so students are forced to go anywhere where they can get wood. But now the pressure has been eased as they bring only few pieces which are enough. But tree felling will also be reduced as we don’t use a lot of firewood anymore,” she says.

 

Food and agriculture

According to Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) reports, food and agriculture are among sectors which are in danger due to negative effects of climate change.

This situation puts small holder farmers, small entrepreneurs and their families in great stress as they depend on agriculture, mainly subsistence agriculture, for their livelihood.

FAO says because these groups depend on rain fed agriculture, erratic rains as a result of climate change, impacts their lives.

The organization notes that many communities in African countries have been subjected to food shortages and hunger making Africa a leading continent of people with poor nutrition which stands at 20 per cent.

In East Africa, social conflicts have emerged in many communities due to effects of climate change. In this region, 30.8 per cent of the population, equivalent to 133 million people, have poor nutrition.