Drought could hit economic sectors in Tanzania

Thursday October 28 2021
Drought pic
By Alex Nelson Malanga
By Hellen Nachilongo

Dar es Salaam. Tanzania Meteorological Authority (TMA) yesterday said the country is likely to experience drought - and with possible far-reaching adverse impact on eight economic sectors.

The areas to be affected range from trade, tourism and wild animals, agriculture and food security, livestock keeping and fishing, health, energy and water to mining.

TMA director general Agnes Kijazi said prolonged spells of drought are expected to start this November to next January, citing Mbeya, Mara, Songea, Rukwa, Iringa, Katavi, Dodoma and Songwe as among the regions that are likely to experience below-normal rains.

She further said that other regions to be affected are Ruvuma, Lindi, Mtwara and the Southern part of Morogoro.

“Nevertheless, there will be a slight increase of rainfall expected in March,” said Dr Kijazi.

Considering that water scarcity impacts where businesses are located, Dr Kijazi said with below-normal rains, the private sector would be adversely affected due to a likely increase in operational costs.

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As it is, she elaborated, production was likely to be pushed down.

Further, she said, below average rains could affect the quality of poles-and-timber trees.

Dr Kijazi also said drought was likely to cause reduced food and water availability for wild animals, forcing them to invade human settlements in search of same.

Drought can have a far-reaching impact on recreation and tourism, including reduced availability of outdoor recreation activities, decreased visitation due to perceptions of drought, and loss of revenue to businesses, communities, and government agencies.

“As it is, it is of paramount importance for the responsible authorities to improve infrastructure in wildlife parks and reserves,” recommended the TMA boss.

In a swift rejoinder, Natural Resources and Tourism deputy minister Mary Masanja told The Citizen’s sister newspaper Mwananchi that the like wood for wildlife animals to attack human settlement was low because wildlife reserves had enough water sources.

“In it happens wildlife attacks human settlements, citizens should not hesitate to report to the respective authorities,” she urged, however, noting that the government was doing all in its power to make it not happen.

Further, TMA said the country will experience shortage of food due to the fact that most regions that produce food crops will receive low rainfall.

Dr Kijazi explained that water levels in rivers, reservoirs and decrease in aquifer recharge is likely in areas where below normal rain is expected.

“Severe soil moisture depletion is expected to occur in many unimodal areas and that is expected to affect crop growth,” she said.

The agency also projects that water borne diseases may occur in most regions due to the shortage of clean and safe water because of the few rains.

On the question of livestock keeping and fishing, she said, the sector was expected to be affected due to the likely reduced water and food for livestock and fish. This in turn, she added, might lead to a conflict between livestock keepers and other land users.

Low water levels in reservoirs during drought conditions could reduce the energy that can be generated using hydroelectric dams.

When it comes to mining, from dampening dust to cooling machinery, crushing ore to transporting tailings, water is a crucial resource for miners.

Noting that water is one of the most vital elements across the entire mining production process, Dr Kijazi said production by miners who used a huge chunk of water was likely to dwindle.

Dr Kijazi said it should be noted that events of heavy and short duration of rainfall might occur even over areas with normal rainfall conditions.

She however noted that the current status of seasonal forecasting allows for prediction of spatial and temporal average over larger areas.

This may not fully account for all physical and dynamical factors that influence short-term climate variability.